At least 14 percent of Kentucky inmates let out of prison since May under a controversial early-release program have been charged with crimes again. Of the 1,004 released as of mid-September, 146 have been arrested or indicted by grand juries, found an analysis of records obtained by The Courier-Journal from the state Administrative Office of the Courts. The early-release program was authorized by this year’s budget bill and implemented by Gov. Steve Beshear in an effort to save $30 million in the next two years.
The number of those accused of committing new crimes isn’t surprising to experts. About 30 percent of the state’s inmates commit new offenses within two years of release. “There are people out there whose entire lives are spent going through the court system,” said Dave Stengel, chief prosecutor in Louisville. The early-release program — which includes some violent offenders — gives credit against inmates’ sentences for the time they were out on parole before being sent back to prison for parole violations. Attorney General Jack Conway has sued to halt the program. He contends it jeopardizes public safety and violates the state’s truth-in-sentencing law, which requires juries to be given information about how long prisoners serve before becoming eligible for parole.