One of the biggest killers across the United States and here in Kentucky is opioid addiction. It is also no secret that the incarceration rates in the state of Kentucky have been on a steady rise over the past decade. A large percentage of persons who end up incarcerated in Kentucky are due to technical substance use disorder violations. In fact, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, there has been a nearly 40% uptick in persons charged with Class D felony drug offenses.
In fact, there have been so many people charged with Class D Felony drug offenses that the state jails cannot hold all of the inmates and the overflow is being housed in county jails. This staggering number has caused a lot of state lawmakers to reconsider the way that Kentucky views substance abuse and addiction.
In reality, not everybody who is served a Class D Felony drug offense ends up in jail as it stands. Some persons convicted of these offenses do end up in rehabilitation programs. However, even those who do not end up in jail do have the stigma of a felony offense on their record for the rest of their lives.
Overall, this is a very difficult subject. The entire country is dealing with being in the grips of opioid addiction and having to figure out the aftermath. While being an opiate addict is not a crime in and of itself, possessing opioids can end up with the user in jail for a considerable amount of time.
There is also interest in reducing drug-related Class D Felony charges to Class A Misdemeanors in hopes of keeping addicts out of jail and more likely to enter rehabilitation programs, and we look forward to following this as it progresses.