FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law a landmark bill designed to decrease the state’s prison population and incarceration costs, reduce crime and increase public safety.
House Bill 463 is estimated to save the Commonwealth $422 million over the next decade, according to the Kentucky Dept. of Corrections website. Over the last three years, headway has been made with aggressive efforts to bring common sense to Kentucky’s penal code, and Kentucky’s prison population has dropped each of the past three years, said Gov. Beshear.
The bill updates Kentucky drug laws by reducing prison time for low-risk, non-violent drug offenders who possess small amounts of illegal drugs. It then gives the savings from the reduced prison costs into drug treatment programs for offenders who need help. The bill also strengthens probation and parole laws by basing key decisions on the risk posed by offenders and improving supervision, and linking offenders to appropriate community resources.
Over the past decade, Kentucky has had one of the fastest growing prison populations in the nation. Despite a decline during the past three years, the Commonwealth’s inmate population is 45 percent larger than it was at the start of the decade. The total growth rate for all U.S. states is13 percent, according to the Pew Center on the States in a 2010 report.
In other Kentucky justice news, Gov. Beshear announced in that the minimum-security Frankfort Career Development Center would close by the end of the current fiscal year on June 30. The complex will be converted into a training facility for the Kentucky State Police.
The Department of Corrections is moving inmates from the 205-bed state-run prison, to county jails, halfway houses and community supervision. The department will be able to offer all correctional officers and staff positions at nearby facilities. The DOC estimates annual savings of about $575,000 once the prison is closed.
Once all inmates have been moved, Kentucky State Police will take possession of the property and begin utilizing it as a training academy, a project that has been at the top of the Justice Cabinet’s capital budget request list for years. A new police academy was projected to cost nearly $34.7 million to centralize much of the state police training.