Corrections Bill Gives Police More Discretion on Whether to Arrest Some Offenders

by Gabe Bullard on March 1, 2011

The corrections bill passed by the Kentucky General Assembly may change how police treat anyone caught with drugs.

The legislation is meant to reduce prison costs and crowding largely by steering drug offenders toward treatment programs. Senate Judiciary Committee chair Tom Jensen says it also gives police more flexibility to issue citations for misdemeanor drug crimes, such as marijuana possession, rather than make arrests.

“The officer would have some discretion in those circumstances. We don’t make it mandatory on those when it’s a misdemeanor drug offense. It’ll be up to the officer,” he says.

Jensen says citations can lead to court appearances and incarceration or punishment, but it will be up to officers whether to immediately jail someone found with marijuana. He says the corrections bill and the attempts to reduce the number of drug offenders in state prisons is not a step toward legalizing any drugs.

Governor Steve Beshear says he will sign the bill.

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