July 17, 2012 — Fifth of a series
The Kentucky Department of Corrections projects that HB 463 will reduce the state’s prison population by more than 3,000 inmates over the next 10 years.
That reduction is expected to generate $422 million in savings, according to the Pew Center on the States, a non-partisan research and policy institute that helped write HB 463.
“We are reversing the trend of rapid growth in Kentucky’s inmate population and its accompanying high price tag,” wrote Lisa Lamb of Kentucky Department of Corrections in a recent brief on the controversial legislation.
None would disagree that the primary thrust of the law is to curtail spending on corrections, which in FY 2010 was $440 million, but some argue that what’s really occurring is a cost shift that counties are forced to bear.
“That’s the biggest thing I’m upset about,” said Chief Circuit Judge Beth Lewis Maze.
“What absolutely needs to happen is a change in the way counties are paid to house DOC inmates. The state needs to back up and reimburse the county for every day an inmate serves in a county jail,” Maze said.
The judge said reoffending inmates sit in jail awaiting trial for four to six months, but the state does not reimburse until the day they are sentenced.
It is a vast law, with elements already being implemented, and others set to roll out over time. Three elements especially—pre-trial risk evaluation, monitored controlled release and mandatory reentry supervision, are the focus of local attention, and local officials say these provisions are resulting in more offenders being out of jail while awaiting sentencing. So what do the number say?
Data from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) obtained by The Morehead News charts the law’s performance in several areas including number of cases in the courts, pre-trial release, appearance rates, and average daily caseloads. The figures are representative of a pre and post HB 463 evaluation.