Bill will release nearly 1,000 Kentucky inmates from jail in Jan - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Bill will release nearly 1,000 Kentucky inmates from jail in January

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COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) -
In January of 2011, the state of Kentucky passed a bill that will release nearly 1,000 inmates from prison as part of a new law to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to the Kentucky Department of Corrections, House Bill 463 created a new type of discharge for certain inmates under a section of the legislation referred to as Mandatory Re-entry Supervision. 

This section of the bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2012 and inmates are slated to be released on Jan. 3

The Department of Corrections says the offenders will be supervised by a parole officer and provided assistance during that six month period in order to help them transition into society.

A release provided by the department stated the following:

Certain offenders are not eligible:

  • Offenders not eligible for parole by statute
  • Offenders convicted of a capital offense or Class A felony
  • Offenders classified as maximum or close security
  • Offenders sentenced to two years or less
  • Offenders subject to the provisions of KRS 532.043

Offenders who have six months or less to be served after his or her sentencing by a court of recommitment to prison for a violation of probation, shock probation, parole or conditional discharge

Offenders who have previously been released on Mandatory Re-Entry Supervision during their current period of incarceration.

The departments say 201 of the projected releases are already in the community under home incarceration. 

"It'd be a new day for me," Kenton County Detention Center inmate Robert Gary said. "[To] go out and try to get my life back on track."

Gary has been in jail serving a sentence for failure to pay child support, but he is hoping the new bill will get him out sooner.

"Minor felons, child support, things like that … they deserve a chance I think," Gary said.

"We can give people second chances but only once they've paid their debt to society," Kenton County Prosecutor Rob Sanders said.

Sanders is concerned about what message the new law is sending to inmates.

"It's giving a bargain that they never should have gotten in the first place," Sanders said. "They start going 'This is all I really have to serve no matter what my sentence is then maybe it's worth the risk.'"

Sanders says it would not just be child support offenders like Gary that could get out early, but inmates who have committed more serious crimes.

"We've got all sorts of dangerous criminals that technically qualify as non-violent under the state's law, but that's the state's term," he said.

Sanders argues the cost savings is not worth the risk to public safety.

"I think most people, when it comes to spending tax dollars, if there's one place they don't mind spending money it's to incarcerate criminals who need to be behind bars," Sanders said.

"My job is to lock people up and to make sure they're not out on the street committing more crimes," Kenton County Jailer Terry Carl said.

Carl says housing state inmates is the biggest revenue generator for county jails. He says the inmates eligible to get out under the new law are the ones out in the community doing work which he says saves the county hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, not to mention the public safety aspect.

"It is alarming that all of a sudden for the state to save money they're going to release all of the inmates out onto the street and that's always a concern," he said.

Carl referenced the continuing tracking of the inmates once they leave the detention center through GPS tracking and rehabilitation programs as a possible deterrent to committing new crimes to alleviate community concerns they will be unsupervised.

Of the total discharged, the Department of Corrections says 52 percent are housed in local jails.

New positions have been added to the Division of Probation and Parole to help handle the increased case load.

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