Kentucky: A Data-Driven Effort to Protect Public Safety and Control Corrections Spending

quick summary

This 2010 brief by the Pew Center on the States explored why Kentucky's prison population expanded and detailed the steps state leaders were taking to contain correction costs while protecting public safety.

Kentucky's prison population is among the fastest growing in the nation. The state's inmate population is 45 percent larger than it was at the start of the decade, compared with 13 percent growth for the U.S. state prison system as a whole.  As a result of this growth, corrections spending in the Commonwealth has increased 338 percent over the past two decades to an estimated $513 million for FY2009.

Greater spending on prisons has not translated into a better return for public safety. The state's recidivism rate—the number of offenders who return to prison within three years of release—has actually increased slightly in the past several years, from 37 percent for offenders released in 1997 to 43 percent for those released in 2006

Kentucky's prison population is projected to grow by nearly 1,400 inmates during the next 10 years at an estimated cost of at least $161 million in operations and construction.

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