Hundreds of Ky. inmates released early as part of corrections overhaul
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Kentucky is preparing to release nearly 1,000 inmates early as part an overhaul of the corrections department that state lawmakers passed in 2011.
Inmates who are within six months of being released will be let go on Jan. 3 and put under supervision by the Probation and Parole Department.
Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown told The Courier-Journal that the program helps inmates find jobs and housing after leaving prison, in an attempt to reduce recidivism. It also will trim the Department of Corrections budget by about $40 million next year.
They were "going from the most supervised place they could be in to basically opening the door and saying: 'Good luck,' " Brown said. "Some would succeed on their own ... but we know that many won't succeed because they have no transition."
There will be 996 inmates released Tuesday, but Brown said he expects about 3,000 to be released under the program throughout 2012.
Most of the inmates were convicted of Class D felonies, which are the lowest level and include robbery, burglary and some drug offenses.
Several inmates are not eligible for the program, including those convicted of Class A felonies, which is the highest level, and those considered maximum security prisoners.
The state has hired about 90 new workers in probation and parole to accommodate the increased number of inmates going into supervision. Currently, the state's correction facilities house 4,547 Class D inmates. Incarceration costs nearly $22,000 annually per inmate.
Nine of the state's 14 correction facilities currently are over capacity, according to the Department of Corrections.
"We delayed the implementation of this particular piece long enough to have the infrastructure in place," Brown said.
Karyn Hascal with The Healing Place, a nonprofit agency that operates a center to help inmates who have been released, said it is important to have transition services to help people adjust to life outside prison.
"There are huge hurdles," Hascal said. "Our goal is to help people have a healthy, drug- and alcohol-free place to live," she said.
In addition, she said staff at The Brady Center can help released inmates come up with a plan to find employment and live independently.
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