Senator Westerfield on Criminal Justice Reform: Solution Lies In “Data and Not the Emotions”

Addressing challenges within Kentucky’s criminal justice system, Senator Whitney Westerfield sat down for an interview with The Bottom Line to discuss potential solutions to issues facing the Commonwealth.

In his interview, Westerfield talks about how Kentucky lawmakers need to rely on data to form big-picture policy decisions instead of forming policy based on knee-jerk reactions. In the clip below, Westerfield also references a recent piece from The Dispatch by author David French titled, “The Mistakes We Cannot Make Again.”

Westerfield also addresses a concerning story from the Lexington Herald-Leader on Kentucky’s Juvenile Justice System, which reports many flaws in the system, including abuse, isolation, and even broken bones. Westerfield goes on to discuss the potential future workforce problems that could come into play as a result of a broken juvenile justice system.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary, Westerfield kept to his word, asking an array of questions to Kerry Harvey, Secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and to Vicki Reed, who was recently named Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Juvenile Justice.

Westerfield asked questions about the policies and procedures for instances of excessive force and how it is handled internally by the Cabinet and Department for Juvenile Justice. Harvey and Reed said that while most incidents are different and handled on a case-by-case basis, the Cabinet does have an internal investigation branch that examines employee issues at Justice and Public Safety.

Harvey and Reed said that the Cabinet takes every report seriously and are ultimately working to make improvements for the betterment of the youth in the state’s care and for the betterment of their employees.

Also in Westerfield’s interview, he talked about the polarization that exists in the realm of criminal justice reform and how Kentuckians can come together to tackle these challenging issues and find common ground.

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Manager of Public Affairs, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

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