Nearly 1,000 inmates released from KY prisons

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - Kentucky State lawmakers say the Commonwealth will save $442 million over the next ten years with the release of 990 inmates on Tuesday.

One inmate reached out to FOX19 to defend the early release.

"I'm actually trying to change my life," released inmate David Roseberry II said. "I just made a bad decision and they're trying to say we're bad people for making bad decisions."

Roseberry, who was incarcerated for drug related charges, argues that the law is a benefit to society.

"You have the freedom of being out here and making money and going to school or doing what you can to better your life to where in there you're costing the state money," Roseberry said.

Roseberry ended his home incarceration Tuesday, but says the oversight will continue. He says while inmates are freed from incarceration, they still must report to a parole officer and undergo continued drug testing.

House Bill 463 is a statewide effort to save money, but the decision to release convicted felons isn't sitting well with local prosecutors.

"The clear majority of [released inmates] were people that were back in prison because they were originally probated or paroled and were revoked because they could not abide by simple conditions," Boone County commonwealth attorney Linda Tally Smith said.

"While what they're being released for today may not be violent in nature, that doesn't mean they don't have a whole other history of violent offenses or other offenses that are questionable," Tally Smith argued.

Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders put away some of the criminals being released.

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

The inmates being released are labeled "non-violent offenders" and according to the Kentucky Department of Corrections have good prison records.

"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," said Sanders.

Locally, 169 of the inmates released were convicted for crimes they committed in Boone, Bracken, Gallatin, Campbell, Grant, Pendleton and Kenton Counties. Many of the offenses are burglary, drunken driving, drug trafficking, drug possession, tampering with evidence, forgery and fraud among others.

Upon release those on parole or probation will immediately rehab programs. The state has also hired 60 probation and parole officers to supervise the freed felons.

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.

"Our parole officers will be working with these offenders, offering them assistance during their time on supervision to try and help them re-enter society and be successful," said Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson. "One of the main goals of this legislation is to continue to attack our recidivism issue. Working with offenders when they are first released, we believe, will have an impact on whether they return to custody or make a positive transition to the outside world."

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