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December 29, 2008

Kentucky legislature struggling with correction costs and sentencing reforms

This local story, headlined "Changes sought in Ky. penal code: Major reforms not on session agenda," provides an interesting window on one state's struggles with correction costs and sentencing reforms.  Here are a few excerpts:

In a short, 30-day session and with a gaping budget hole to fill, the 2009 General Assembly is not expected to take up comprehensive corrections reform, despite a surging inmate population.

Earlier this month Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown submitted to Gov. Steve Beshear 11 proposed reforms, most of which are relatively small changes to the penal code.  But in light of the state's budget problems, "comprehensive (corrections) reform is delayed," said Rep. Robin Webb, D-Grayson....

With a burgeoning corrections budget and a fast-growing prison population, criminal justice officials have been clamoring for the first sweeping reform since the penal code was established in the 1970s. The state's prisons house about 21,000 inmates, a figure that is projected to reach 31,000 within a decade. The growth rate is the fastest in the nation, according to a recent report by the Pew Center on the States....

Despite the budget crisis, Brown said the state must be careful not to make program cuts that could increase the recidivism rate and instead should try to find funding for initiatives that could lower the rate.  Officials estimate that roughly 30 percent of all inmates re-offend within two years of being released from prison. "How do we put programs in place that are going to make it more likely, rather than less likely, the individual is going to succeed on the outside?" Brown said.

December 29, 2008 at 08:42 AM | Permalink

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