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Decriminalizing Poverty

Charles is laser-focused on reforming the criminal justice system to address the disparities that disproportionately criminalize and incarcerate poorer communities and people of color. With one of the highest incarceration rates in the world, Kentucky has long looked to our prisons as a means to deal with larger, systemic problems we’d rather not confront. As a result, we end up trapping people in an endless cycle of poverty and crime.

As Senator, Charles will support legislation to end cash bail, address racial bias in risk assessments, and lead on broader pretrial reform to ensure that Kentuckians have their constitutional rights protected. He will push for reforms that prevent unnecessary sentence extensions due to technical violations, and he supports automatic expungement upon completion of a sentence to keep previously-served criminal records from continuing to hold back people fighting to get back on their feet.

Charles fully supports and has been a champion for full legalization of cannabis. In addition to legalization, Charles is standing for Kentuckians to support commutation of sentences and expungement of records related to cannabis. To address the devastating generational impact of the war on drugs, Charles supports direct economic investment and entrepreneurial resources in communities disproportionately harmed to make sure they are not blocked out of new industries that come from legalization.

Charles also supports broader decriminalization of drug use, and increased treatment supports for people convicted of drug-related offenses. To make sure the goal of our justice system is to help people heal, and not profit from the prison industrial complex, Charles supports an end to private prisons.