State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in Kentucky


After reforming its criminal justice system in 2011, Kentucky passed comprehensive juvenile justice legislation in 2014 based on recommendations from a bipartisan, interbranch task force. The law strengthens evidence-based programs while restricting the commitment of lower-level offenders and duration of out-of-home placement. The reforms are expected to reduce the Department of Juvenile Justice’s out-of-home population by more than one-third and save Kentucky taxpayers as much as $24 million over five years—money that can be reinvested in needed community programs.

“We can no longer pour money into a system that produces such disappointing results for taxpayers and for our young people.”state Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R)

In 2011, the Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act implemented a broad series of criminal justice reforms. The legislation was passed in the Senate unanimously and in the House by a vote of 96 to 1 before being signed by Governor Steve Beshear. The law ensured more prison space for violent and career criminals while helping to stop the revolving door for lower-risk, nonviolent offenders. The reforms are expected to save the state $422 million over 10 years. A portion of the savings will be used in efforts to reduce recidivism, including stronger programs for probation, parole, and substance abuse.