Washington, DC -
03/04/2011 - The broad series of reforms Governor Steve Beshear signed into law today puts Kentucky at the forefront of states advancing research-driven, criminal justice policies designed to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable and control corrections costs. The Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act was a strong bipartisan effort, passing the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 96 to 1.
"Senator Jensen, Representative Tilley, Senate President Williams and House Speaker Stumbo worked across party lines to look at the data and forge a comprehensive package of reforms that will get Kentucky taxpayers a better public safety return on their corrections dollars," said Richard Jerome, project manager, Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. "The legislation employs research-based strategies to reduce recidivism, hold offenders accountable and maximize the state's limited financial resources."
Overall, the new law ensures there is more prison space for violent and career criminals while helping to stop the revolving door for lower-risk, non-violent offenders. The Legislative Research Commission's fiscal note estimates the reforms will bring gross savings of $422 million over 10 years. A portion of these savings will be reinvested in efforts to reduce recidivism, including strengthening probation and parole and programs for substance abusing offenders.
The legislation is the product of more than six months of intensive work by the Kentucky Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act. Co-chaired by Sen. Tom Jensen and Rep. John Tilley, the task force also included Chief Justice John D. Minton; the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet J. Michael Brown; County Judge/Executive Tommy Turner; Tom Handy, a former prosecutor; and Guthrie True, a former public defender. With technical assistance from the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States, the Crime and Justice Institute and the JFA Institute, the task force analyzed a wide array of criminal justice data and compared state policies with national best practices, then forged consensus on a series of recommendations. Throughout the process, the task force received input from numerous Kentucky criminal justice stakeholders including law enforcement, victim advocates, county officials and jailers, prosecutors, public advocates and judges.