A bill hailed as a bi-partisan effort to control the soaring costs of Kentucky's corrections system while providing better treatment options for drug offenders was signed yesterday by Gov. Steve Beshear, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. “It enables the state to continue to be tough on crime, but enables us to be smart about it,” Beshear said. Experts predict the law will save about $42 million a year, about half of which will be reinvested in treatment programs and probation and parole efforts.
The final product was the result of months of work by a seven-member task force representing the judicial, executive and legislative branche. The work was supported with an estimated $800,000 by the Pew Center on the States and $200,000 from the state budget. Kentucky houses about 20,500 prisoners at a cost of $440 million. In 2008, the Pew Center reported that Kentucky had the nation's fastest growing prison population, though it has declined slightly in recent years. The law aims to steer low-level, non-violent offenders out of prisons by using programs that offer community supervision and more drug and alcohol treatment.