Gov. Beshear Pushes for Criminal Justice Reform

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Andy Beshear is pushing once again for criminal justice reform.

Beshear says prisons costs and populations continue to rise while infrastructure crumbles.

It’s estimated if things stay the way they are, the corrections budget is expected to increase by $100 million by Fiscal Year 2022.

“To give you an idea, we can do all day kindergarten for a year for $90 million, and every superintendent I talked to said if we can do all day kindergarten, they can fund a full year of Pre-K,” Beshear said. “So the increases over the next three years or two and half are about the cost of what it would take to get us to universal pre-K for a year that is the missed opportunity if we don’t address the rising costs.”

While Beshear was urgent on the need to reform Kentucky’s criminal justice system he was short on offering what specific policies he would like to see. However, he did offer some aspects of reform he believes need to occur including: reducing the incarcerated populated, decreasing recidivism and the revocation of probation and parole, providing addiction treatment and recovery services, consolidating state prisons and enacting bail reform.

“I think we ought to look at every option but that’s a conversation we need to have the legislature too,” Beshear said. “Because a onetime stop gap measure doesn’t change the curve of the incarceration rate.”

Beshear also discussed buying the prison in Wheelwright from CoreCivic, a private prison company.

Former Gov. Matt Bevin entered into an agreement with the company to lease the prison but have the state run it, Beshear says the lease the Bevin Administration entered into allows them to purchase it.

“We are going to explore that option because a state facility in an area where we can actually hire people is a less expensive proposition that might give us the flexibility at ultimately closing those facilities that are impacting this budget and at different times might not be the optimal environment for those inmates.”  

According to a source familiar with the situation the prison in Wheelwright saw around 1,000 people apply for 200 jobs.