From Stephenie Hoelscher, Stephenie.hoelscher@outlook.com

Majority of Kentucky Voters Support Removing Barriers that Make it More Difficult for Former Offenders to Find Jobs; Kentucky Smart on Crime Coalition Working to Ease Reentry into Society at State Level

FRANKFORT, Ky. (February 17, 2016) – A poll of Kentucky voters released Wednesday finds broad, bipartisan support for reforming the criminal justice system, affirming the efforts by the Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition to remove barriers that make it more difficult for former offenders to find jobs and re-enter society.

The Tarrance Group, on behalf of the U.S. Justice Action Network, conducted a survey of voters in six states, including likely voters in Kentucky, revealing voter attitudes toward criminal justice reform. A majority of voters in every age group and both political parties agreed that the government spends too much money to imprison nonviolent offenders, that the main goal of the criminal justice system should be rehabilitating offenders, and that barriers that make it difficult for former offenders to find jobs should be removed.

The U.S. Justice Action Network is a broad, bipartisan coalition working to reform the criminal justice system at the national level. Responses to this survey were gathered January 19-21. The margin of error is ± 4.5 percent.

“The pollsters say the amount of consensus on re-entry and criminal justice reform is remarkable given the partisan political climate we are in today,” Kentucky Smart on Crime coalition spokesman Russell Coleman said. “Of course, given the consensus that exists among the diverse groups represented in our coalition, this only confirms what we already knew. Kentuckians of all stripes are ready for common-sense reforms that will save tax dollars, make our communities safer and help our economy.

Coleman said he is especially heartened by the percentage of voters who support removing barriers that make it difficult for former offenders to find jobs. Fifty-five percent of Kentucky Republicans and 66 percent of Kentucky Democrats surveyed believe those barriers should be removed.

“This viewpoint is why the coalition’s main priority during the ongoing legislative session is to establish a process by which qualifying former offenders who have served their time can have their records expunged,” Coleman said.

The coalition consists of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, ACLU of Kentucky, Catholic Conference of Kentucky, Kentucky Council of Churches, Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

 To learn more about the coalition, visit www.kysmartoncrime.com or follow us on social media.