Ahead of budget proposal, Gov. Beshear emphasizes need for criminal justice reform

Says rising prison costs, incarceration rates and crumbling infrastructure need to be addressed
Gov. Andy Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Ahead of his budget address, Jan. 28, Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday outlined the need for criminal justice reforms, saying the state’s prison costs and populations are surging while the state’s infrastructure is crumbling.

Gov. Beshear said that the existing locations of the state’s institutions are also not sustainable.

“Criminal justice reform is not just the right thing to do, but we must do it based on our current reality and on our budget,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “The reality is that, this session we can have robust, non-partisan dialogue and then move forward in a real and meaningful way to address our issues.”

Gov. Beshear said the state’s incarceration population has increased 40% since fiscal year 2004.

The estimated cost increases to maintain corrections operations through fiscal year 2022 is more than $115 million.

Gov. Beshear said the state has also lost 1,269 medium security beds since 2016 due to crumbling infrastructure. The Kentucky state reformatory alone lost 995 beds. Some of the prisons are also not well positioned to sustain efficient operations.

The effort to provide more information on the need for criminal justice reform follows Gov. Beshear’s state of the commonwealth address where he said Kentucky has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country and in the world.

While Kentucky is not more violent, we put more people in prison, Gov. Beshear said, which affects our status and our future as money is pulled from other critical needs, like education and health care.

Other states have had successful criminal justice reform, while reducing their crime rates and Gov. Beshear wants to see criminal justice reform in Kentucky that:

• Reduces our incarcerated population.
• Decreases recidivism and the revocation of probation or parole.
• Addresses the racial bias and racism in our justice system.
• Provides meaningful addiction treatment and recovery services.
• Consolidates state prison institutions.

On Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. Eastern time, Gov. Beshear will outline his two-year budget priorities. Kentuckians can watch on KET or at ket.org/live.

Gov. Beshear will present a responsible, balanced budget that values and prioritizes education, safety of children and health care.

“The state and our children have suffered enough because of lack of school workers and cuts to education,” said Gov. Beshear. “We cannot cut any more bone and we must find limited ways to reinvest.”

Gov. Beshear plans to release a transparent and balanced budget, which includes revenue growth and efficiencies, along with conservative measures and reduced liabilities.

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