Kentucky’s prison population and the amount spent to house criminals has jumped by about half in the past 10 years, says a new legislative report quoted by the Lexington Herald-Leader. Despite those increases, the report says Kentucky’s spending for prisons is on par with many states with similar prison populations.
On average, the state housed 21,473 inmates in 2009, compared to 15,164 in 2000. Kentucky spent $294 million to incarcerate prisoners in 2000. In 2009, the cost was $451 million. In 2007, Kentucky spent 2.4 percent of its total budget on prisons. That’s below the national average of 3.4 percent. Frankfort’s “tough on crime” approach over the years also has increased the number of felony crimes and the number of persistent felony offenders, the report noted. The report recommendations on how to decrease costs, such as changing the law so persistent felony offender sentences apply only to people with violent offenses and shortening sentences for inmates who complete certain programs, such as substance abuse treatment.