Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Rethinking the War on Drugs

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Mandatory sentencing for drug crimes and the decriminalization of marijuana have been hot topics recently. Earlier this month U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the American Bar Association he wants to “fundamentally rethink” mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. According to the Associated Press, Holder “instructed federal prosecutors to stop charging many nonviolent drug defendants with offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences.”

Some of these sentencing guidelines have been on the books since the 1980s as a cornerstone to the war on drugs. Now many, including Holder, blame these rules for what they say is the needless incarceration of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in a severe strain on criminal justice budgets and significant overcrowding in federal prisons.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union issued a report that called for states to legalize marijuana, license and regulate its production and distribution, and tax sales. The organization says enforcement of marijuana possession laws wastes billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

Even Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has jumped into the debate. He joined Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy in March to introduce legislation to give federal judges more discretion in sentencing criminals where mandatory minimums may be unnecessary. One commentator says this is the second time Paul has outflanked the Obama Administration on the left.

These developments framed the discussion on Monday’s edition of Kentucky Tonight. Our guests were Cherie Dawson-Edwards, Associate Professor in the University of Louisville Department of Justice Administration and past president of the ACLU of Kentucky; Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson; Kentucky Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown; and Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Leveridge, who serves Russell and Wayne Counties.

Kentucky Tonight will be pre-empted next week. Instead we’ll air the special On Deadline: American Newspapers in the Digital Age, hosted by veteran journalist Marvin Kalb. If you care about the future of journalism and your morning paper, be sure to tune in Monday at 8 p.m.

Have a safe Labor Day weekend.

Task Force on Penal Code on Kentucky Tonight

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Over the past decade, Kentucky has had one of the fastest growing prison populations in the nation. This high rate of prison expansion is not due to an increase in crime; Kentucky’s serious crime rate has been well below that of the nation and other southern states since the 1960s. So, what is driving the increase in prison growth?

There are a number of factors: an increase in arrests and court cases, the high percentage of offenders being sent to prison, and an increase in the admission to prison of drug offenders.

A state task force has been meeting for months to come up with solutions for the growing prison population and operating Kentucky the penal facilities. The task force has been working with the Pew Center on the States. A report and recommendations will be presented to the 2011 General Assembly.

Monday on Kentucky Tonight we will be talking about the problem, what the task force has uncovered and what some of the answers might be for the state.

Scheduled guests are:

- State Senator Tom Jensen, R-London, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the 2010 Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act

- State Representative John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, chair of the House Judiciary Committee and co-chair of the 2010 Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act

- Secretary Michael Brown of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

- Chief Justice John Minton of the Kentucky Supreme Court

Student Cell Phones

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I don’t know John Rosemond, but I read his column in the newspaper. He’s a family psychologist and author of more than 10 books on raising healthy children, parenting, and discipline who writes a nationally syndicated column in the Lexington Herald Leader.

Today, Rosemond wrote about keeping cell phones out of schools, out of the hands of students in school. A lot of his information was obtained from Jon Akers, director of the Kentucky Center for School Safety. Akers has written an outline essay that asks school systems to prohibit students from having cell phones in their possession during school hours. You can read the full essay at

Rosemond says Akers presents an ironclad argument that student cell phones are not just unnecessary, but contribute to bullying, underachievement, sexual harassment, and numerous disciplinary issues including cheating and even criminal activity.

Akers and the Kentucky Center for School Safety conduct an amazing amount of work on behalf of students, parents, teachers, and education that is applicable to school systems nationwide. It’s nice to see Mr. Akers’ work highlighted in John Rosemond’s column.

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