State Initiatives: Kentucky

In 2011, Kentucky passed HB 463, the Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act, to reduce one of the nation’s fastest-growing prison populations. From 2000 to 2009, the Kentucky prison population had grown by 45 percent, compared to 13 percent for the U.S. state prison system overall.i From 1980 to 2009, the state’s prison population had grown 442% from 3,723 inmates to about 20,200 inmates.ii To pay for this increase, total state spending on corrections in 2009 reached $513 million, up from $117 million in 1989.iii

The first goal of HB 463 was to prioritize expensive prison space for the most serious offenders. The legislation did this, in part, by introducing graduated penalties that diverted minor drug offenders to probation and treatment, while reserving limited prison space for the high-level drug traffickers. Another goal of the legislation was to reduce recidivism of parolees and probationers by, among other things, expanding electronic monitoring, enhancing post-release supervision, incorporating graduated sanctions, and authorizing earned compliance credits for parolees. HB 463 also authorized two pilot programs based on the Hawaii’s HOPE model and the reinvestment of a portion of state savings at the county-level. The third goal of the legislation was to improve data collection and to rely on this data for performance-based incentive funding pilot projects. The complete reform package passed unanimously in the Senate and by a vote of 96-1 in the House. It was signed into law by the Governor on March 3, 2011.

The legislation was the byproduct of a group of leaders from all three branches of government who partnered with the Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project to develop strategies for reducing recidivism while holding offenders accountable and controlling corrections spending. Those announcing the effort included: Governor Steve Beshear, Senate President David L. Williams, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Chief Justice John Minton, Senate Judiciary Chairman Tom Jensen, and House Judiciary Chairman John Tilley.

iKentucky to Partner with the Pew Center on the States to Improve Public Safety, Contain Costs,” Pew Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project, 11 Aug. 2010.
ii Ibid.
iii Ibid.
iv Ibid.

  • Kentucky Going “Smart on Crime”

    Posted in Criminal Justice News, Kentucky: October 8, 2014 by Right on Crime

    With a burgeoning prison population, Kentucky has begun to think of more cost-effective ways to handle this problem. Looking towards alternative sentencing plans that have been proven to lower crime rates, they also take into account employment which will allow individuals to remain contributing members of society. Finally, they are also attempting to provide second […]

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  • Reform prisons the right way

    Posted in Kentucky, Nevada, ROC Blog, State Initiatives: March 27, 2014 by Right on Crime

    There is a new conservative prison reform movement in America. It is working to remove or lesson mandatory minimum sentences, and to increase releases of non-violent criminals, and to reverse prison policies many of which were previously passed into law by conservatives. Click here to read more.

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  • David Keene: “Overhaul justice for juveniles”

    Posted in Juvenile Justice, Kentucky, ROC Blog, State Initiatives: March 21, 2014 by Right on Crime

    “As a conservative who puts family first, I am encouraged to see that states are reforming their juvenile justice systems to produce better results for victims, offenders and taxpayers.” Click here to read more from ROC signatory David Keene as he discusses juvenile justice in his op-ed for The News-Enterprise.

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  • National Review: Not Too Soft, Not Too Hard…but just Right on Crime

    Posted in Georgia, Kentucky, Prisons, ROC Blog, Texas: September 19, 2013 by Right on Crime

    In this National Review article, Texas is recognized as “a state with an enlightened leadership that keenly appreciates the fact that anti-crime measures adopted during the epidemic decades from the late 1960s to the early 1990s have in some part outlived their usefulness.” Following Marc Levin’s U.S. Judiciary Committee testimony concerning mandatory minimums, he told […]

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  • David Keene op-ed in Salem Statesman-Journal

    Posted in Kentucky, Oregon, Pennsylvania, ROC Blog, South Dakota, Texas: May 13, 2013 by Right on Crime

    In an op-ed published in today’s Statesman Journal,  Right on Crime signatory and NRA president David Keene urges conservatives to examine whether taxpayers are getting the most from the money spent on public safety. He highlights state data that shows Oregon’s criminal justice system is not passing this cost-benefit test. While Oregon has been a leader […]

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  • Vikrant P. Reddy interviewed by Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis

    Posted in Audio, Kentucky, Prisons, ROC Blog, Victims: April 11, 2013 by Right on Crime

    Vikrant Reddy joined The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis today to talk about conservative ideas for criminal justice reform. They spoke about Senator Rand Paul’s speech to Howard University yesterday, as well as our broader Right on Crime issue set.  LISTEN NOW! Also, here is a blog post up at the DC where Lewis describes the interview […]

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  • Senator Rand Paul talks criminal justice at Howard University

    Posted in Adult Probation, Juvenile Justice, Kentucky, Law Enforcement, Overcriminalization, Parole and Re-Entry, Prisons, ROC Blog, Substance Abuse: April 10, 2013 by Right on Crime

    Read the full text of Senator Rand Paul’s speech at Howard University today. He focused on how conservative values, including those that deal with criminal justice reform, can better people’s lives and limit government power. Here is an excerpt from the speech today. Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy handed and arbitrary. They […]

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  • Senator Rand Paul leading the way on Criminal Justice Reform

    Posted in Kentucky, Overcriminalization, Prisons, ROC Blog: April 5, 2013 by Right on Crime

    We were pleased to read this article in The Washington Times by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. The good senator is supporting Right on Crime principles of fighting crime, prioritizing victims and saving taxpayer dollars. He is trying to move legislation that would reform the federal mandatory minimum laws currently on the books. Senator Paul knows […]

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  • The Conservative Case Against More Prisons

    Posted in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Prisons, ROC Blog, Vermont: March 18, 2013 by Right on Crime

    Our policy experts Vikrant Reddy and Marc Levin wrote an excellent piece recently for The American Conservative magazine. It’s entitled, “The Conservative Case Against More Prisons” and appeared in the latest issue of the magazine. Here is an excerpt: There are other ways to hold offenders—particularly nonviolent ones—accountable. These alternatives when properly implemented can lead […]

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  • Discussing Juvenile Justice with “Pure Politics” in Kentucky

    Posted in Audio and Video, Juvenile Justice, Kentucky, Priority Issues, ROC Blog, State Initiatives, Uncategorized, Video: December 16, 2012 by Vikrant P. Reddy

    Last month, Right On Crime’s Jeanette Moll traveled to Kentucky to present research on juvenile justice to stakeholders involved in reforming several aspects of the state juvenile system — including how it handles status offenders.

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