Keeping Misdemeanor Offenders Out of Jail

A new law in Kentucky gives police officers more power to judge offenders, hoping it will free up space in jails.
by | June 13, 2011 AT 4:30 PM

Police officers in Kentucky do more with the law than just enforce it. A state law that took effect earlier this month gives them the right to judge whether a person who committed certain misdemeanors deserves to be arrested, which is the case now, or just slapped with a citation and a court date. As long as an offender complies with the officer, poses no threat and seems likely to show up to court, police cannot haul people down to the local or state jail for misdemeanors. The change was made as one solution to the state's overcrowded jails -- a problem most states are plagued with. In Louisville, Ky., jails are so cramped that the corrections department reopened a 60-year-old lockup that wasn't up to health and safety standards. The new law also reduces some felony drug charges, which account for 13 percent of daily bookings at the Louisville-Jefferson County Corrections Department, to misdemeanors, reports the Louisville Courier Journal.