Op-Ed: Legislators Clean Up Kentucky's Outdated Criminal Justice Laws


By Ray Daniels

For many years, criminal justice advocates have been pleading with the General Assembly to take stock of outdated laws and make sure they meet the needs of Kentuckians today.

Many of these conversations have rightfully focused on how the criminal justice system approaches individuals in the strongholds of addiction. From these conversations, we have become more aware of the underlying factors that lead to incarceration and substance use and, on the flip side, what must be done to help them turn their lives around. As is the case with many issues facing our communities right now, much of the problem lies with our institutions and the policies and processes that govern them.

That’s why Kentucky Comeback, an initiative of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to transform our state’s approach to criminal justice and substance use, was proud to see the General Assembly pass several pieces of legislation this session that will give more Kentuckians a second chance at leading healthy, meaningful, productive lives.

In 2021, individuals in recovery and those advocating on their behalf worked alongside our legislators to make meaningful reforms, including:

After years of being put on the backburner, it has been incredibly encouraging to see more criminal justice and recovery-related reforms move through our legislature. I’m grateful that we have the support of public officials who understand that our state will not make a comeback without addressing the complex and deeply rooted problems facing our communities.

Kentuckians who have served their time and are ready to get to work deserve the opportunity to do so, and that’s why cleaning up our criminal justice system should be a routine thing. If individuals in recovery are willing to do the hard work to break the chains of addiction, our system shouldn’t hold them down.

Kentucky Comeback will be working with our elected officials to continue crossing important items off the list. Just like a cluttered room, a little bit of spring cleaning can make all the difference moving forward.

Signer: Ray Daniels, Lexington, is the co-founder, president and CEO of Equity Solutions Group, a strategic sourcing company that serves technology-based clients in 13 states. He serves on several community boards, including the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.