Posts Tagged ‘state prisons’

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.

Criminal Justice Reform

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Kentucky’s corrections budget is growing much faster than total state government spending.

In fact, according to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, more than half the growth in the state budget since 2000 has been in the corrections system, jails, and state prisons. Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the State Chamber told a legislative panel in August that state leaders must begin focusing on that spending problem now or expect a day of reckoning as soon as 2012.

Adkisson will be one of the guests on Kentucky Tonight, Monday, September 21st at 8:00/7:00 Central on KET. The other guests are:

  • J. Michael Brown, Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary
  • Linda Tally Smith, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Boone and Gallatin Counties
  • Robert Lawson, Professor of Law in the University of Kentucky College of Law

This is an important topic. Please join the conversation by email during the show or send me a facebook message. I’ll do my best to read them on the air.

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