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Better Life Program to Help Defendants Avoid Recidivism

The announcement of a new $50,000 grant from the Coalition for Public Safety that will support a new program by the Life Learning Center, brought Senator Rand Paul to town on Thursday.

He and his wife, Kelly Paul, appeared at the Life Learning Center (LLC) on Madison Avenue as the organization announced its Better Life Program.

Rocky Boiman, an eight-year NFL veteran, Super Bowl champion, ESPN analyst, and host of 700WLW’s “The Eddie & Rocky Show” emceed a panel discussion that included Matthew Charles, the first man freed under the First Step Act, prison and sentencing reform legislation championed by President Donald J. Trump that passed late last year. Charles was featured during Trump’s State of the Union address this year, and received a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle.

Alecia Webb-Edington, president of LLC, and Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders also participated in the panel to explain the Better Life Program, a new partnership in which prosecutors will identify defendants with potential to avoid recidivism and invite them to enroll in Foundations for a Better Life at LLC. The program requires employment or continued education at a post-secondary institution, and calls for all participants to remain drug free. Defendants who complete the Foundations program will avoid incarceration and, in some cases, will be eligible for reduced or even dismissed charges. 

Upon learning of the new partnership and the hundreds of people who could avoid incarceration each year, the bipartisan Coalition for Public Safety stepped up to help fund this work.

“I’m thrilled to see my home state of Kentucky continuing to lead on criminal justice reform thanks to innovative partnerships like the one we’re celebrating today,” said criminal justice advocate and author Kelley Paul. “The truth is that nearly everyone entering the prison system is going to be released one day. And when they get out, it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to be reformed and ready to contribute back to society. That’s what the First Step Act is doing on a national scale for amazing individuals like Matthew Charles, and that’s what we’re doing right here in Kentucky.”

“This partnership could be every bit as impactful as most of the criminal justice reform legislation that is passing all over the country,” said Holly Harris, president of the Coalition for Public Safety. “It’s wonderful to see local law enforcement working alongside second chance advocates to change lives and improve public safety. We are proud to provide resources to this groundbreaking partnership, and we hope to see this program replicated all over the country.”

“We are thrilled to partner with the Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Coalition for Public Safety in our mission to enable at-risk individuals to achieve their highest potential,” said Webb-Edgington. “This investment offers a path to self-sufficiency for impacted people, and a rightful level of dignity in society. And as a former state trooper, I’m equally proud to say that our program provides a better public safety return to our taxpayers.”

“Some people we serve make bad choices, but are not bad people,” said Sanders. “Given proper education and assistance, these individuals can make the most of a second chance, turn their lives around, and turn away from crime for good.  I’m proud to partner with, and help raise resources for, an organization that can change lives, and make us safer.”  

“As a primary beneficiary of strong bipartisan partnerships in criminal justice reform, collaborative efforts like this one are essential to encourage at-risk individuals to improve themselves,” said Charles, who champions criminal justice reform at FAMM. “I hope I can serve as absolute proof that people can change, and then use their lives to positively impact others. And I believe that’s what is happening at the Life Learning Center.”

“It’s just good common sense that the greatest single deterrent to returning to a life of crime is a job,” said Rocky Boiman. “The Life Learning Center is helping get people back on their feet, and get back to work. And I’m proud of our local law enforcement leaders for stepping up and forging partnerships that will make our entire community stronger and safer.”

-Staff report