With prisons and county jails operating at or above capacity, the Kentucky Department of Corrections is implementing an emergency regulation this week to expedite release of certain offenders who have already been approved for parole.
The move will impact about 570 inmates whose cases have been reviewed by Kentucky’s independent Parole Board as part of the normal discharge process. Prior to the change in regulation, these inmates were already deemed safe for parole and were scheduled for release within 60 days.
The regulation is designed to free up prison and jail beds so that offenders can be transferred out of the most crowded jails, where high populations have raised concerns over safety and operations.
Since January 2016, the state inmate population has grown 6.9 percent, slowing the transfer of inmates from county jails to state prisons after an offender has been convicted in court. The growth in population has also increased the number of Class D inmates who, by statute, remain housed in jails.
Officials believe this effort is a first solid step in addressing the issue of crowding in prisons and jails. Several counties are already undertaking jail expansion projects, which are expected to increase capacity by approximately 1,706 beds in the next 24 to 36 months. In addition, the Department of Corrections is continuing to review options for reopening private prisons, though a final decision has not been made.