Several years ago, the Kentucky legislature took action to address an issue that galvanized support from groups like the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the County Judge Executive Association, as well as all three of Kentucky’s branches of government. It was the rising prison population and the associated costs. While legislation was passed with the aim to safely reduce incarceration, the impacts of Kentucky’s recent history of high incarceration remain. Approximately 13 percent of Kentucky children have lived with a parent or guardian who has served time in jail or prison – which is the highest rate in the nation.
For this group of children, the conversations about adult expungement are more than about giving an adult a second chance. The issue is about their parent having a chance to get back to work after completing a sentence. Criminal records, particularly felony records, often have consequences for decades after sentences are completed. Parents with such records frequently have a hard time getting a good job, furthering their education, and finding stable housing due to criminal records checks.
Two bills in the current legislative session, HB 40 and SB 298, aim to address that limitation, through record expungement, for those who have certain low-level (Class D), non-violent felonies on their record if they have completed their sentence and any court-ordered requirements, and have moved forward on the right path without further offenses or violations. While the important details need resolved, now is the time for action to restore economic options for these parents. The Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children supports such legislation, because it would mean more Kentucky parents getting back to work and taking care of their children.
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