Drug War

Drug Sentencing Reform in Kentucky

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The Drug War Chronicle details sentencing reforms adopted by Kentucky this month to help address the fiscal problems exacerbated by a growing prison population. The new law changes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana from a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, to a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 45 days. More important, the Chronicle reports, people caught with small amounts of marijuana or other drugs will be subject to "presumptive probation," meaning "they will get probation unless judges can offer a compelling reason why they should go to prison." Low-level dealing—involving less than four grams of cocaine, two grams of heroin or methamphetamine, or 10 doses of other drugs—also has been downgraded, from a Class C felony (which triggers a prison sentence of five to 10 years) to a Class D felony (which carries a sentence of one to five years). "Although crime rates have remained steady or dropped," the Chronicle notes, "Kentucky's prison population has increased fourfold in the past two decades, from 5,000 in 1990 to more than 20,000 now. Drug offenders account for 25% of the prison population, but 38% of inmates admitted since 2000."

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  1. Having originally hailed from Kentucky, I can tell you: they need the drugs.

    1. I say this in a civil manner.

      Fuck you.

      1. lol. another insecure redneck. what else is new.

  2. Why not just drop it all to “presumptive probation” if what you want to do is reduce the prison population?

    1. Because if they do that and nothing really bad happens, it would be to easy downgrade it all from “presumptive probation” to “presumtive mind your own fucking business”.

      1. Exactly!

  3. It would just be better to remove ALL mandatory sentencing for possession. Now since they have to comply with Federal law regarding these substances, make it a fine instead of jail time. For those selling, reduce the jail time to what you see for possession. But, again, the best solution is repealing prohibition completely.

    1. Obligation to comply does not suggest obligation to enforce.

  4. Baby steps are better than nothing. What’s amazing is the near-total bi-partisan support this measure garnered. It’s almost enough to give me hope.

    Also, Kentucky indisputably now has much more progressive drug laws than New York.

    1. Does “progressive” really mean anything any more?

      1. Ironically…

      2. Does “progressive” really mean anything any more?

        Only if you’re buying insurance,

        1. I hate Flo so fucking much.

          1. I hate Flo so fucking much.

            Here you go.

    2. It’s a step in the right direction.

      It’s also a sad commentary that we only worry about dumb-shit, draconian prison terms during a budget crisis. Screw justice, compassion and common sense (all reasons this should have been done a decade or so ago).

  5. Come on, Kentucky! Next, vote marijuana completely legal and let the state become the Las Vegas of primo weed!

    1. Jebediah Springfield: People, our search is over! On this site we shall build a new town where we can worship freely, govern justly, and grow vast fields of hemp for making rope and blankets.
      Shelbyville Manhattan: Yes! And marry our cousins.

      I thought I was going to have to doctor the quote a little, but no, not really.

      1. Root marm!

  6. These “budget shortfalls” have been boon to libertarian ideas. People may not be ideologically opposed to the welfare/military/prison state, but they sure as hell are figuring out that it don’t come cheap.

  7. First of all, pay notice to where this story is from.

    Secondly, notice that in Illinois faking a pee test is a felony($20,000 bail!!).

    1. pay notice to where this story is from.

      Camp Crystal Lake?

      chu-chu-chu-ah-ah-ah

      1. They have a homicidal maniac attacking nekkid teenagers and they’re wasting time on this happyhorse bullshit.

        I think that they may want to reassess their law enforcement resource allocation priorities.

        1. But the campers are having sex and drinking and doing drugs. For that, they deserve to die.

          WHY WEREN’T THEY WATCHING JASON!?!

  8. Although crime rates have remained steady or dropped,” the Chronicle notes, “Kentucky’s prison population has increased fourfold in the past two decades, from 5,000 in 1990 to more than 20,000 now.

    This just proves the prison?industrial complex is working!

  9. I would suggest an experiment:

    Release all of the drug offenders who have committed no other crime and every month pay them 1/3 of the cost to keep them behind bars if they submit to and pass a drug test each week for the duration of their original sentence. Screw up and they go back inside. Stay clean and they receive an absolute discharge, erasing their “criminal record.”

    I bet that would come closer to achieving the WoD’s putative goals than the present policy. And would cost one hell of a lot less.

    [Please note that I think the whole WoD is crap and that drugs should be legalized. I just think this would be an interesting experiment within the existing context.]

    1. Release all of the drug offenders who have committed no other crime and every month pay them 1/3 of the cost to keep them behind bars if they submit to and pass a drug test each week for the duration of their original sentence. Screw up and they go back inside. Stay clean and they receive an absolute discharge, erasing their “criminal record.”

      An analog of this is already being done in many states in the form of Drug/DUI and Veteran’s courts. The rationale being it’s cheaper to incarcerate “criminals” in their homes and jobs than in a jail or prison cell. Participants are often required to either maintain employment or perform community service, or both.

  10. Baby steps are better than no steps at all.

  11. Amazingly, I had heard absolutely nothing about this. It says how bad of a problem this is if this slides by in KY with barely a peep of dissent.

    1. Passed unanimously in the senate. wow.

    2. Same here. I hadn’t heard a thing.

  12. Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for the user as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects, and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reforming pot laws. I drew up a very cool poster for the cause which you can check out on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot…..-2011.html Drop in and let me know what you think!

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