With reporting from Kentucky Public Radio’s Brenna Angel.
Nearly 250 inmates are being paroled in Jefferson County Wednesday as part of Kentucky’s early release program, which is meant to save the state money while offering transitional services to offenders.
The program, being called the Mandatory Re-Entry Supervision Program, is estimated to save up to $40 million over the year by releasing inmates who have less than six months left on their sentences. Some critics have expressed concern that certain areas of the state will not be able to provide the necessary services offenders need to transition back into society.
But Justice Cabinet Secretary J. Michael Brown believes the re-entry program will lead to lower recidivism rates.
“There might be some individuals out there who have some particular criticism, but it’s a sweeping bill. If we’re talking about the mandatory supervision part of it, you know at this point I don’t know that there are any valid criticisms because we don’t have any experience with it yet,” said Brown.
The Kentucky legislature passed House Bill 463 last year allows certain inmates to be released to one of the 18 probation and parole districts in the state. There several prerequisites that inmates must meet; offenders cannot be convicted of a capital offense of Class A felony and offenders cannot be classified as maximum or close security. But 939 this month will enter society and work with their districts to establish a life.
“The object of the program is to make some transition from being incarcerated back into the community. That’s the purpose of the supervision. Because otherwise we would have just been opening the door and letting them out without any particular handoff from incarceration back to society,” said Brown.
Around 70 percent are low category offenders (Category D). While 154 inmates were convicted in Jefferson County there will be 247 who have planned on maintaining residence in the region.
To accommodate the nearly 939 inmates being released across the state additional staff support has been hired in many probation and parole districts, but the affects of the reforms won’t likely be seen until next year.