Intervening and investing in Kentuckians a more effective approach than locking people up, Sen. Westerfield says

Many Kentuckians who enter the state’s justice system struggle with behavioral health issues and/or substance use disorder. And many need treatment over incarceration.

Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield has introduced legislation to ensure the needs of an individual are assessed upon their arrest to determine the best course of action.

Senate Bill 90 would start a pilot program in 10 Kentucky counties to require a mental and/or behavioral health assessment early on in the process when an individual is charged with a Class D felony.

The assessment, performed by a provider from a rotating list, would decide if treatment was a more suitable solution than incarceration to help someone with substance use disorder. Within 30 days of the course of treatment, the individual would receive a vocational assessment. Within 10 days of that assessment, the treatment provider would work with the Kentucky Workforce Cabinet to get placed in job training or a job.

In an interview with The Bottom Line Tuesday, Westerfield said many individuals who would qualify under this bill have never had access to the care they need, which would be supplied under the program. He added putting people on the right track prevents future victims, future crime, and much more.

“We know, because we have seen this work in little bits and pieces here and there, if we can put all these pieces together, we can make a huge difference for the people who go through these programs,” Westerfield said.

Watch the full interview with Sen. Westerfield to hear more details about the bill, who qualifies, what the process looks like, the bill’s prospects in the 2022 session and more here:

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Jacqueline Pitts
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