Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kentucky releases 1,000 felons to save money

Nearly 1,000 Kentucky felons are walked out of prison on January 2, 2012 as a result of recent changes to the state's penal code, reported the Associated Press.

The changes approved by the legislature allow prisoners within six months of their release date to leave under the supervision of Probation and Parole. They will be provided with reentry services including counseling and help with finding a job and housing.

The move is designed to cut $40 million annually from the Department of Corrections budget and to keep inmates from returning.The Department of Corrections says it costs about $21,000 a year to house a state prisoner in Kentucky. In comparison, it costs about $987 each year to supervise out-of-custody convicts, according to the Associated Press.

Kentucky Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown told the Lexington Herald-Leader that officials won't be able to calculate the actual savings until later this year, about the same time that the state can determine the impact this budget cutting effort has had on crime rates. 

It is inevitable that some of these early releases are going to commit new crimes.  According to the Pew Center for the States, the recidivism rate for new parolees in Kentucky is about 41 percent within three years of release.  That doesn't mean that 410 of the early releases will commit a new crime, but overall the rate of new crimes is about 11 percent. 

Some researchers suggest that about half of those violations will occur within the first year. Are 110 new victims worth $40 million?  Would those new victims have been willing to pay high taxes to avoid being victimized?

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