Bevin attends Trump's criminal justice bill signing, touts KY's common sense reform

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WASHINGTON (KT) -- Gov. Matt Bevin was on hand for a White House ceremony where President Trump signed criminal justice reform legislation known as The First Step Act into law.

According to the White House, the First Step Act will help prepare inmates to successfully rejoin society and enact commonsense sentencing reforms to make the justice system fairer for all Americans.

Among its reforms, the First Act will:

--Promote prisoner participation in vocational training, educational coursework, or faith-based programs by allowing prisoners to earn time credits for pre-release custody.

--Expand prison employment program opportunities.

--Enact fair, commonsense reforms of mandatory minimums.

--Eliminate the three-strike mandatory life sentencing provisions.

--Give certain offenders the ability to petition the courts for a review of their sentences.

“From the perspective of a governor of a state where this issue touches people at the ground level, this is significant," said Bevin.

"This is not a partisan issue. Criminal justice reform transcends partisanship. The reason this has not historically been addressed is that you don't win political points by doing this, but it's the right thing to do. We have taken individuals who had been relegated to second-and third-class citizenship in America, and have now given them, along with their families and communities, the opportunity to believe that there is hope."

Bevin also took the opportunity to thank not only the president but his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kuscher for addressing the issue.

“I am grateful for the fact that folks like you have taken it on,” Bevin said, “have withstood all the critics, all the nattering nabobs of negativism, and I truly appreciate you not being dissuaded, but carrying it forward.”

A wide array of elected officials and criminal justice reform advocates also attended the White House ceremony.

Bevin said he has made transformative criminal justice reform a top priority of his administration and made Kentucky a national leader through its efforts in expungement legislation, executive pardons and restorations of civil rights, and initiatives such as the "Justice to Journeyman" apprenticeship program, which teaches a trade to inmates, and the "Fair Chance" state government hiring initiative, which banned the box asking if someone has been convicted of a crime on state applications.

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