Kentucky must stop releasing certain felons from prison and parole supervision in three counties because “parole credits” being given some inmates are unconstitutional, says a judge’s ruling reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal. Under the program, Kentucky has released more than 2,000 felons statewide since May in an attempt to save $30 million over the next two years. Felons who were sent back to prison for parole violations received credit against their sentences for the time they were out on parole. Some prosecutors have expressed anger over the move, saying it rewards felons for bad behavior and will lead to more crime.
State justice officials say that the inmates do not pose a safety risk and that steps must be taken to curb the rapid growth in the size and cost of the state’s corrections system. They say the released inmates had technical violations, such as not reporting to their parole officer or failing a drug test. Those who commit additional felonies aren’t eligible for release. State Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson said the release of 1,016 felons from prison under the parole credit saved an estimated $500,000 in roughly the last month of the previous fiscal year and could save a total of $12.5 million over the next biennium. That’s about 42 percent of the $30 million the legislature hopes to save through the entire package of corrections provisions it passed, including home-incarceration expansion.