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Court Upholds Early Release Program for Prisoners

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

The Kentucky Supreme Court says an early release program for state prison inmates may continue.

More than seven thousand Kentucky prison inmates and parolees are now free under the early release program, which is based on parole credits. And the Justice Cabinet says the program has saved the commonwealth millions of dollars.

But the attorney general’s office is trying to block the program, saying parole credits are being applied retroactively. Two lower courts reached different conclusions, with one allowing the program to continue and the other issuing a statewide injunction blocking it.

The Supreme Court combined the cases, and in a 42-page decision says the Corrections Cabinet may continue to apply the early release program to prisoners sentenced prior to its implementation.

All seven justices concur, but Justice Will T. Scott concurs in result only.

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High Court Hears Arguments On Prison Release Program

From Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh

An attempt to block an early release program for state prison inmates has now reached the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Assistant Attorney General Hays Lawson argues a lower court ruling allowing the program to continue should be reversed. Another lower court ordered the program stopped.

But Justice Mary Noble questions whether the courts should even be questioning legislative intent.

“Doesn’t the act itself basically, if not say outright, clearly imply that, look, this is for now emergency thing and we’re doing it to save money because we’re in financial straits,” Noble asked.

To date, seven thousand prisoners and parolees have been released under the program, which was approved by the 2008 General Assembly. The Supreme Court made no immediate ruling in the case, which means, for now, the program will continue.