Perry County officials unhappy with effects of HB 463

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Perry County judicial and law enforcement officials are not happy with the effects of a bill passed earlier this year in the general assembly.

Law enforcement officials said that House Bill 463 has changed how they arrest people and how judges set bonds. Sponsor, Rep. John Tilley of Hopkinsville who wrote the bill said that judges still have discretion when setting a suspect's bond.

He said that there was no actual change that would hamper the ability to punish offenders.

The bill is designed to save the state money for its budget.

The 150-page-long document is aimed at decreasing the populations of inmates in prisons but officials say it could lead to problems in other areas.

“Limiting officers abilities to arrest and guidelines on what judges have to go by and department of corrections on early release i don't believe that letting certain criminals back out on the street is going to be the answer to saving the state money,” said Chief Tony Eversole of the Perry County Sheriff’s Department.

He said he believes that the community is going to pay for the effects of the bill.

Perry County District Judge Leigh Anne Stephens said she believes it needs some amendments. The bill still leaves judges with some discretion when setting bonds, but has changed the way certain offenders are punished.

“It's creating a revolving door in some cases,” said Stephens.
“And those people are then deciding ‘Well, nothing’s gonna happen to me-I will just go ahead and do what I wanna do,” she added.

Sponsors of the bill say that the overall goal is to give treatment to drug offenders while leaving serious offenders behind bars.

Tilley said that public safety is the goal of the bill.

“We are not looking to put anybody on the street that's a danger to society, in fact we are looking at alternatives for non-serious non-violent non-chronic non-sexual offenders, those kinds of folks were our focus here with this bill,” Tilley said.

He said that the hope is that drug offenders receive proper treatment for their addiction instead of being imprisoned which costs the state more money. Tilley said the bill plans to save the state $500,000,000 long term.

Deputy Damon Hickman of the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard said they had about 210 inmates as of August 18 which was down from about 270 when the new rules began in early July.

The jailer said that they are seeing a lot of the same people.

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