Since taking office Governor Matt Bevin has made justice reform a top priority of his administration. In June of 2016, Governor Bevin established the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council with the goal of conducting a six-month study of Kentucky’s justice system. In February of 2017, Governor Bevin issued Executive Order—2017-064—which prohibits the state agencies from inquiring about previous criminal history on initial applications for employment. On the heels of Governor Bevin’s Executive order, the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council released its recommendations for reform. The Council’s recommendations lead to the Kentucky General Assembly passing Senate Bill 120 in April of 2017—the legislation was aimed at reforming the states’ reentry process to limit barriers to employment, overhaul the way Kentucky collected the fines and fees associated with incarceration and created a pilot substance abuse program.
Given that a majority of voters, according to a recent poll conducted by our sister organization the U.S Justice Action Network, have shown an appetite for reform, Kentucky is likely to be a top opportunity for justice reform advocates moving forward.