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Early Inmate Release Bill Would Cost Millions

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- As legislators scramble to plug a $456 million hole in this year's state budget, Senate Republicans are pushing a bill that would cost the Department of Corrections an additional $8.7 million through the next fiscal year, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Monday edition.

Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Springs, would end the controversial early-release program that has let nearly 2,000 inmates out of prison early since May.

But it also would cost the Justice Cabinet $8.7 million through the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year -- at a time when it is trying to cut nearly $6 million from its budget to help fill the state's budget gap, cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said.

Westwood, whose opponent in the November election tried to use the issue against him in a campaign commercial, said he was "pretty sure" the bill wouldn't affect the state budget. But he added that he wasn't completely sure because "it's been a while since I've even looked at it."

Last year the legislature included in the state budget the controversial parole-supervision credit, which gives inmates credit against their sentences for the time they were out on parole before being sent back to prison for parole violations. It also gives credit against the sentences of parolees who are under supervision, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal.

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