Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Herald-Leader article about early release and HB 463

Early releases will put penal code reform to test - Lexington Herald-Leader

It has been nearly six months since the most sweeping changes to Kentucky's penal code in decades, but the first major test of the philosophy behind them will begin Tuesday when nearly 1,000 state prisoners are granted early release.

House Bill 463, the comprehensive and controversial overhaul that became state law June 8, was intended to save more than $40 million a year in Department of Corrections costs, with a large chunk of those savings being reinvested in community supervision and counseling programs to keep prisoners from ending up back behind bars on the taxpayers' dime.

The prisoners released Tuesday will be monitored by the department of probation and parole for the last six months of their sentences. If successful, the state could see millions of dollars in savings from the first batch of releases alone.

The average yearly cost to incarcerate a state prisoner in Kentucky is $21,906, according to data from the Department of Corrections. The average cost to supervise out-of-custody criminals is a fraction of that — $987.Savings probably won't be calculable until later this year, Kentucky Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown said. Other portions of the bill are still works in progress.