Kentucky official: State prisons to run out of space by 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – 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. He said 79 percent of that increase could be eliminated if lawmakers change the state’s criminal code to put fewer nonviolent offenders behind bars.

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said changes to the state’s criminal code are possible but not probable. He said he’d like to see progress on some of the state’s other criminal justice reforms before taking that step.

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