Kentucky’s inmate population of 21,000 is growing at a faster rate than any other state’s, and the need for action increases every day, editorializes the Louisville Courier-Journal. Almost all state-run prisons and many jails are operating at or above capacity. Kentucky’s corrections budget approached $500 million this year. Relying on private prisons to pick up inmate overflow, which is no less expensive than using state-run facilities, has managed to create even more problems.
The Courier-Journal says that “everyone seems to be ignoring the elephant — or tens of thousands of prisoners — in the room: the need to amend sentencing laws for nonviolent offenders. Kentucky doesn’t need more prison space; it needs fewer inmates.” Changing the law so that nonviolent offenders don’t do lengthy sentences, or instead draw automatic minimum sentences, would mean those convicted of nonviolent drug and gambling crimes would do less or no jail time — freeing up more space in state-run prisons and eliminating the need for private prisons, the newspaper says.