Like other agencies, Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet must trim four percent from its budget. The agency oversees the state’s prisons, which have seen the largest growth in population in the country. Cabinet Secretary Michael Brown is proposing changes in the law which might help slow that growth. Brown says one option is to set the bar higher for felony thefts. Right now, stealing something worth $300 dollars can send you to prison. Brown would like to see that raised to $500, or higher.
“If you don’t reach the felony threshold then you’re treated as a misdemeanor, which means you don’t come into the prison system. You’re more likely to be in program at the local level, where the focus is most likely to be on restitution,” says Brown.
The state legislature will have to consider this and other proposals. Brown is also recommending streamlining the sentencing process and reducing drug conviction sentences.