Kentucky Studying Prison Fixes; Other States Taking Action

FRANKFORT, KY -- Kentucky is studying ways to fix its burgeoning prison system learning from other states that have begun reforms, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Sunday edition.

Texas and Kansas are cutting prison populations as their legislatures experiment with sentencing, addiction treatment, probation and parole, and social services targeted at high-crime neighborhoods.

The new attitude didn't come easy in a state like Texas, better known for executing prisoners than trying to rehabilitate them. But Texans balked when prisons needed 14,000 new beds at an estimated cost of more than half a billion dollars. The state already incarcerates 171,000 people, reports the Herald-Leader.

"We had an understanding from everybody on all sides that our current model was not working, and it was time to try something new. How often does that happen?" asked Ana Yanez-Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

And then there's Kentucky.

The General Assembly and Gov. Steve Beshear agree that Kentucky faces the same dilemma as other states, if not worse. Its prison growth leads the nation. However, they have little to show as lawmakers enter the final days of their 2008 session, the Herald-Leader reports.

Beshear and the Senate propose separate committees to study the justice system and suggest ways to alleviate inmate crowding. These committees would follow on the heels of similar committees whose findings were largely ignored. The Senate proposal -- awaiting House action -- originally called for a report by July 2011, but that date was bumped forward to this December because senators agreed they need to move faster.

A few bills that could ease demand for incarceration right away -- for example, diverting non-violent drug offenders into treatment -- appear stalled, the newspaper reports.

Meanwhile, the prisons budget is expected to swell from $417 million to $478 million by 2010. Fiscally struggling county jails, many of them brutally crammed with thousands of state inmates, will get hundreds more inmates and possibly less state funding.

Beshear campaigned last year on a pledge to "finally and permanently" resolve inmate overcrowding. Now he says he won't be rushed, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright: The Lexington Herald-Leader

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  • by c Location: fkt on Mar 10, 2008 at 05:16 AM
    I agree with you, WOW. The government makes too much money off drugs to EVER stop them or legalize them. However, my point was to make money from the drug dealers/users by imposing stiffer fines. But I realize that judges will never do that because that would cut into their profits too much. I would go as far as to say that our own lawmakers are into the drug trade as well. Jerry, are you saying we should just let criminals go? No punishment for crime. Well, we already have that! I say start putting some of these criminals to death without waiting 20 yrs & we will see a decrease in crime. Start with those already on death row. What about the man who just got out of prison, then killed 4 adults, 2 children, & wounded 3 other children in TN? Do you think that was best for us to let this man out? No, if they had executed him for his 1st murder, then 6 other people would still be alive! Yes it cost $ to house these criminals, but it's better than turning them loose to repeat their crimes.
  • by Catsfanagain Location: Kentucky on Mar 9, 2008 at 07:44 PM
    Well we all have an opinion on what could be done to save money and help stop criminals from becoming repeat offenders. My opinion is this. Why don't we take away all the freaking luxuries they prisoners have? Why do they need cable television, weight benches, cigarettes, computer labs and so on. These people need to be taught that crime does not pay. While serving time they can exercise the old fashion ways: sit-ups, jumping jacks, push ups, etc. They need something to do? Then buy a few acres of land and let them work on chain gangs gardening to grow their own vegetables to eat instead of using tax dollars to buy them. You could get quite a bit of harvest from a 20 acre lot of land. Heck you could even raise some pigs and cows. That would keep them busy and at the same time cut down the expenses of feeding them. And if they do not want to take part in helping then fine, keep them in their cell with bread and water and nutritional supplements. Don't let them enjoy prison.
  • by Larry Location: Western Ky. on Mar 9, 2008 at 07:31 PM
    The situationnn is that prisons have became big business for the private prison services across the nation. The private corporations are big contributors to the political parties and are in the back pockets of the elected officials. If you check the budget proposla for 09/10 FY you'd see that Kentucky's state prisons are recommended to get 83.5 million (23%) less than requested, while the thre private prisons are recommended ot get 8.64 million (17%) more than requested. The private prisons house about 10% of the state convicts, and get to cherry pick the inmate with better behavior and less health problems. The same situation exist in the food service vendor. The taxpayers of Ky. are paying the inmates that prepare the food for the vendor to profit on. The private prison corporations lobby fo rtough on crime legislation to insure the inmate have longer sentences to fill there institutions. They pay staff minimum wages, for the hazarous duties.
  • by Frank Location: Kansas on Mar 9, 2008 at 05:57 PM
    Kansas has kept growth of its prison system under control because it made a determined commitment to do so, despite adverse lobbying by for-profit prison operator GEO Group to grow the number of prisoners. In Kentucky on the other hand, during Ernie the Crook's administration, it always seemed as though John Rees, ex-Corrections Corporation of America V.P., was trying to maximize the state prison population. That gave his ex-employers at CCA more market and more market share. Rees increased per diems and levied negligible fines even for failure to prevent and control rioting. He even allowed CCA Corporate to control all the information about deaths in Otter Creek including the employee suicide in the warden's office. His anointed successor hasn't shown any motivation to change the direction, away from corporate profits and toward taxpayer protection. It's time for Beshear to make some real changes in the Department of Corrections, exploring evidence-based alternatives
  • by Jerry Location: Lexington on Mar 9, 2008 at 11:03 AM
    Some years ago, California decided to get tough on crime and enacted the "three strikes" law which flooded their prison system. And now their prison system is about to bankrupt the state. You cannot keep locking people up and throwing away the key without getting into serious problems. If that's what some of you people want, then you had better dig deep in your pockets to pay for all the new prisons needed. There's a better way, but our lawmakers are just to chicken to face the issue. To address the problem, they will be looked at as "soft on crime".
  • by Wow Location: RIchmond on Mar 9, 2008 at 08:55 AM
    @c Location Drugs cant be legalized because companys and politicians are drug dealers. They make too much money selling you pain pills that addict you in 1 week and importing cocaine. B4 we invaded afghanistan they produced no heroin. Now we are there they produce 80% of the worlds heroin. We have been in south america for 50years and they still import cocaine readily. DO soem research on the subject youll find the CIA and the white house in every major drug and gun shipment.
  • by Nora Location: Canada on Mar 9, 2008 at 08:45 AM
    Put them in the Army instead of jail...Save our men & women!
  • by Cindy Location: Somerset on Mar 9, 2008 at 08:32 AM
    When I state that the prison system is a financial drain on Ky and that something needs to be done, the Cindy bashing begins. It is nice to see that I am not the only one that thinks there is a problem.
  • by c Location: fkt on Mar 9, 2008 at 05:42 AM
    Serious criminals ARE NOT BEING PUNISHED AS IT IS! 5 years for a child's life? Give me a break. Drug dealers/users back on the streets to do business as usual? What are you guys thinking? Why not just legalize drugs & tax them, if you are not going to get them off the streets! The cops bust their butts to catch these people & you say, just let them go! What not just tell the officers to stop persuing drugs & drug dealers all together! Why don't you leaders come & live in my neighborhood where these druggies hang out! I bet you would change your minds in a hurry! I say start actually punishing these criminals by hitting them in the pocketbook! Make it a flat $2000 fine for the 1st offense, $5000 for the 2nd, etc. No money, no more drugs. Same with DUI's! Besides who's going to make these people go to treatment programs anyway? I say no money in their pockets, then no drugs or alochol & the state makes money in the process!


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