(LEX18.com) Governor Steve Beshear on Thursday signed into law a landmark justice reform bill designed to decrease the state’s prison population, reduce incarceration costs, reduce crime and increase public safety.HB 463 is estimated to save the Commonwealth $422 million over the next decade. The bill is the culmination of years of study and work to solve a complex problem: out-of-control corrections costs.
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The bill modernizes Kentucky drug laws by reducing prison time for low-risk, non-violent drug offenders who possess small amounts of illegal drugs. It then reinvests the savings from the reduced prison costs into drug treatment opportunities for offenders who need help. The law also strengthens probation and parole laws by basing key decisions on the risk posed by offenders and improving supervision, and links offenders to appropriate community resources.
HB 463 will now reduce the penalty for possessing up to a half pound of marijuana from a Class A misdemeanor and a possible year in jail to a Class B misdemeanor with a 45-day jail maximum. It also allows police discretion to avoid arresting someone solely for marijuana possession, instead just issuing a citation and summons to appear in court, if it is believed the suspect will not fail to show up for the court date.