Kentucky’s prisons are overcrowded despite the opening of a $92 million prison this year, the Associated Press reports. By 2010, the state’s prison system is expected to be short nearly 3,000 beds, says Corrections Commissioner John Rees. The prison population grew by 7.2 percent last year. That ranks Kentucky fifth in the nation when it comes to prison growth. It costs nearly $20,000 per year to house an inmate.
The numbers for female inmates are increasing faster than for men. Recently, the state added 400 beds at a prison for women. Much of the recent increase could be attributed to an increase in the number of people arrested on drug offenses, said John Hicks, deputy state budget director. The number of people going to jail on drug crimes doubled from 1,800 in 2000 to 3,600 this year. State Rep. Jim Wayne (D-Louisville), said it was “unconscionable” for Kentucky to have that number of people in prison. Rather than simply punishing people by incarceration, Kentucky should focus more on helping inmates rehabilitate, Wayne said. “If you’re not trying to rehabilitate people and you’re just trying to punish them, there’s no transition back into society.”