jails

WFPL

A recent study shows Kentucky is one of just eight states that is holding more people in local jails than in state prisons. The problem is largely driven by the number of people in the commonwealth who are held in local jails while serving prison sentences.

 

Kentucky’s level of incarceration continues to grow at an explosive rate at the same time the nationwide trend is declining. Some counties are now considering expanding or building new jails to deal with overcrowding.

3DaysCount

Kentucky’s joining a national effort to reduce the number of people held in jail during pretrial. In Kentucky, counties pay the cost of housing inmates who are awaiting trial.

Pretrial is defined as the period from a person’s first contact with law enforcement through the resolution of any resulting charges, usually through trial, plea or dismissal. The Administrative Office of the Courts manages the state’s judicial system and is joining the 3DaysCount initiative.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet

Kentucky’s Labor Secretary said the state has one of the lowest labor force participation rates in the nation. Derrick Ramsey said an estimated 200,000 people left the workforce after the 2008 recession and haven’t yet returned. But he said the recession isn’t the only reason the state’s labor force participation is so low.

“Further numbers that are worthy of conversation, the penal system,” he said. “We have 26,000 people that are incarcerated in our state today and that number keeps growing quicker and faster than one could even imagine.”

Kentucky Department of Corrections

Kentucky’s new Department of Corrections commissioner says one of his top priorities is reducing recidivism.

Jim Erwin said 34 of Kentucky’s jails and prisons are about 140 to 300 percent over capacity. Erwin said the opioid crisis is a major reason behind the overcrowding. He said the department is seeing an increase in people violating their parole for technical violations driven by drug use.  

 

“We are basically the largest substance abuse treatment provider in the state. The department of corrections is,” he told WKU Public Radio.

Simpson County Detention Center/Facebook

Several inmates from the Simpson County Detention Center now have jobs at private companies under a new program called SCORE. 

Three men and two women are the first inmates taking part in the program called “Second Chance Offender Rehabilitation and Education” or SCORE.

Deputy Jailer Ashley Penn is program director for the jail. She said the inmates found their own jobs, went on interviews, got hired, and at the beginning of this month, began working at local companies.

Flickr/Creative Commons/my_southborough

Local groups are coming together to oppose a pending “anti-gang” bill and they are urging state lawmakers to kill the measure before the legislative session ends Saturday.

The bill, introduced Jan. 10, stiffens penalties for those engaging in gang activity or for committing a crime as part of a gang. The measure has passed the House and could be approved by the Senate as soon as Friday.

Bureau of Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons has issued a record of decision signaling that it is moving ahead with plans to build a federal prison on the site of a former strip mine in the hills of Letcher County, Kentucky. But local opponents of the prison say they’re not giving up and are considering a legal challenge to prevent the construction of a new prison.

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A study by a Campbellsville University professor finds Kentucky has a lack of standardized programs aimed at helping former inmates re-enter society.

 

The Kentucky Department of Corrections released more than 1,200 inmates in 2017. According to the report, two-thirds of those inmates will be rearrested within three years.

Dale Wilson is a professor at Campbellsville and author of the study. He said while there’s high participation in substance abuse programs, there’s a lack of programs that prepare inmates for getting a job once they’ve served their time.

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Kentucky’s Justice Secretary says he’s not giving up on criminal justice reforms becoming a reality during this year’s legislative session.

But John Tilley’s comments come as a reform bill is stalled in a House committee.

House Bill 396 is the result of suggestions made by a committee appointed by Governor Bevin to find ways to lower Kentucky’s incarceration rate, and increase opportunities for addicts to receive substance abuse treatment.

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The two-year spending plan passed by the Kentucky House allocates $70 million to reopen three private prisons.

 

Daniel Cameron is a spokesperson for the criminal justice reform group Kentucky Smart On Crime. He said the money being spent to incarcerate people for low level drug offenses could be better spent elsewhere.

“For every dollar that’s eaten up by the corrections budget that’s another dollar that can’t be utilized to go after serious violent offenders,” he said.

Kentucky Official: State Prisons To Run Out Of Space By 2019

Jan 30, 2018
Creative Commons

Kentucky’s top public safety official says the state’s prisons will run out of space by May 2019, possibly forcing the early release of thousands of nonviolent inmates as the state continues to grapple with the effects of a nationwide opioid epidemic.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley told state lawmakers Tuesday the state’s prison population is expected to grow by more than 4,400 inmates over the next decade. His comments come as lawmakers are deciding how to spend taxpayer money over the next two years.

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An upcoming fundraiser for the new Oldham County jail is drawing criticism from advocacy groups.

The event, “This Joint is Jumpin,’” invites the public to to spend a night in the new facility. For a contribution of at least $100 to participating nonprofits, donors will be given a tour of the facility, breakfast and dinner, snacks, a commemorative T-shirt, a souvenir mug shot, and “one fun-night in jail.”

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.


Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.

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Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard has resigned after a little more than a year on the job.

A statement from Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokesman Mike Wynn said Ballard resigned to “pursue a private sector venture.”

“We thank him for his service and will immediately begin our search for a permanent replacement,” Wynn said.

Deputy Commissioner Jim Erwin will oversee operations while the agency searches for a replacement, Wynn said.

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