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Dream.Org & Statewide Constituents Stand Firmly Against HB 5 “Safer Kentucky Act”

April 15, 2024


(Frankfort, Kentucky) -- Today Dream.Org, a well-recognized national non-profit working to end mass incarceration, hosted a press conference at the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort to speak out against key issues in HB5 (House Bill 5), the Safer Kentucky Act. The legislation threatens to worsen Kentucky’s overdose crisis, increase homelessness, and deepen hardships for those already struggling. 

“We are not making Kentucky safer by criminalizing some of our most vulnerable people," says John Bowman, Senior Campaign Organizer for Dream.Org. “We need to treat people with love, compassion, and empathy. We need to find solutions to the issues of addiction and homelessness.” 

HB5 makes Kentucky less safe by allocating even more resources towards longer prison sentences instead of productively allocating those funds towards increasing Kentucky’s low and declining clearance rates for serious crimes. Sentence lengths in Kentucky are already long, despite extensive research showing the certainty of punishment, not the length of sentences, successfully deters crime. 

The legislation also focuses on sentencing enhancements for crimes involving fentanyl, including harshly punishing street-level dealers and those involved in drug transactions. These measures make drug users more likely to buy from less trustworthy sources and less likely to call for emergency help in the event of an overdose.

Kentucky prisons already suffer from overcrowding and extreme understaffing, and HB5 would only exacerbate this problem by sending more people to jail through harsher sentencing. Overcrowded prisons create unsafe conditions for both incarcerated individuals and prison staff. This bill worsens Kentucky’s mass incarceration problem, which currently has the 7th highest incarceration rate in the world.

"We cannot incarcerate our way to prosperity," said Kungu Njuguna, Senior Policy Strategist for the ACLU of Kentucky. "We MUST listen to the data and prioritize the experience of directly impacted people when it comes to solving problems in our commonwealth. We MUST invest in root cause solutions like housing, education and treatment. The legislature should let the veto stand and come back next session with practical data proven solutions for Kentuckians" 

"Kentucky should implement data-driven policies to address the issues we face,” states Sarah Durand, VP of Government Affairs for KYFree. “House Bill 5 only guarantees an increase in the costs borne by taxpayers to support the state corrections system, but does not guarantee an improvement in public safety. With a price tag of likely a billion dollars over the next decade, taxpayers deserve transparency on the true outcomes of enacting this law and lawmakers need a greater understanding of the unintended consequences we will face." 

Advocates from across the state have been advocating against HB5 since it was introduced. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear vetoed the legislation on Tuesday, only for that veto to be overturned through a simple majority vote by the House of Representatives on Friday. Dream.Org will continue to fight for justice and work towards a future where compassion and empathy prevail.  

For more information on Dream.Org and House Bill 5 Safer Kentucky Act please visit -- https://act.dream.org/sign/say-no-safer-kentucky-act/ 



About Dream.Org: Dream.Org is working towards an America with fewer people behind bars, less pollution, and more economic opportunity. From ending mass incarceration to stopping climate change, the most durable solutions are created by overcoming division and working together. Dream.Org’s common ground approach has led to bipartisan criminal justice reform that brought 30,000+ people home from behind bars.



Lauren Cox, Boxcar PR


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