Cost-saving corrections reform bill passes the House

A bill to reclassify some Class D felonies by creating a new misdemeanor category was passed through the House Friday with a 65-30 vote.

Bill sponsor Rep. Brent Yonts has explained the bill creates a new misdemeanor category, gross misdemeanor, which includes three types of low-level, non-violent, non-sexual offenses that are currently classified as Class D felonies including Flagrant Non-Support, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument II and Forgery II.

Yonts said the legislation could save the state around $21 million. The Kentucky Chamber supports the legislation and has testified in favor of the bill in committee.

Yonts says the cost savings from the bill would come from the reduction in sentence length for the offenses proposed in the bill, changing them from 1-5 years to 12-24 months. As for what the offenses are, Yonts stated that the Class D felonies up for reclassification normally have to do with bad checks, unpaid child support and others but none involve sex crimes and all are non-violent.

The legislation also sets up presumptive parole, presumptive probation and other changes.

With a focus on cost savings, Yonts said the legislation is a continuation of previous measures such House Bill 463 and Senate Bill 200, which worked to tackle justice reform and are projected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

During debate on the floor over the bill, co-sponsor Rep. Jerry Miller of Louisville recognized the support of the legislation from the Kentucky Chamber and a broad coalition of organizations while voicing his support of the bill.

House Bill 412 now heads to the Senate to be heard in committee.

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Jacqueline Pitts
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