Earlier this week, Secretary John Tilley of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet convened the Justice Reinvestment Workgroup for its first meeting. The workgroup is part of the Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC) formed last year by Governor Matt Bevin to develop workable solutions to the justice issues facing the state while ensuring public safety. The Kentucky Chamber is a member of the new workgroup and of the CJPAC.
During the meeting, representatives of the Crime and Justice Institute presented on the national landscape for justice reforms and provided an update on crime, incarceration, and recidivism rates across the states.
The group also provided statistics on Kentucky’s situation. Kentucky’s prison population has grown significantly over the years and while there have been periods of decline in population, Kentucky has witnessed an increase in the number of inmates since 2013. Presenters also noted that Kentucky ranks 5th in the nation for the incarceration rate of women.
Since the publication of the Leaky Bucket report in 2010, the Chamber has discussed the problem of the growing cost of corrections. Every dollar spent on corrections is a loss of investment for education, infrastructure, and economic development. There have been policies adopted to reduce costs, but Kentucky is now seeing an increase in incarceration and corrections cost.
The workgroup will continue to hear from the Institute over the next several weeks with the plan of providing policy recommendations to the CJPAC in December.