jails

Simpson County Detention Center/Facebook

Several inmates from the Simpson County Detention Center now have jobs at private companies under a new program called SCORE. 

Three men and two women are the first inmates taking part in the program called “Second Chance Offender Rehabilitation and Education” or SCORE.

Deputy Jailer Ashley Penn is program director for the jail. She said the inmates found their own jobs, went on interviews, got hired, and at the beginning of this month, began working at local companies.

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Local groups are coming together to oppose a pending “anti-gang” bill and they are urging state lawmakers to kill the measure before the legislative session ends Saturday.

The bill, introduced Jan. 10, stiffens penalties for those engaging in gang activity or for committing a crime as part of a gang. The measure has passed the House and could be approved by the Senate as soon as Friday.

Bureau of Prisons

The Bureau of Prisons has issued a record of decision signaling that it is moving ahead with plans to build a federal prison on the site of a former strip mine in the hills of Letcher County, Kentucky. But local opponents of the prison say they’re not giving up and are considering a legal challenge to prevent the construction of a new prison.

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A study by a Campbellsville University professor finds Kentucky has a lack of standardized programs aimed at helping former inmates re-enter society.

 

The Kentucky Department of Corrections released more than 1,200 inmates in 2017. According to the report, two-thirds of those inmates will be rearrested within three years.

Dale Wilson is a professor at Campbellsville and author of the study. He said while there’s high participation in substance abuse programs, there’s a lack of programs that prepare inmates for getting a job once they’ve served their time.

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Kentucky’s Justice Secretary says he’s not giving up on criminal justice reforms becoming a reality during this year’s legislative session.

But John Tilley’s comments come as a reform bill is stalled in a House committee.

House Bill 396 is the result of suggestions made by a committee appointed by Governor Bevin to find ways to lower Kentucky’s incarceration rate, and increase opportunities for addicts to receive substance abuse treatment.

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The two-year spending plan passed by the Kentucky House allocates $70 million to reopen three private prisons.

 

Daniel Cameron is a spokesperson for the criminal justice reform group Kentucky Smart On Crime. He said the money being spent to incarcerate people for low level drug offenses could be better spent elsewhere.

“For every dollar that’s eaten up by the corrections budget that’s another dollar that can’t be utilized to go after serious violent offenders,” he said.

Kentucky Official: State Prisons To Run Out Of Space By 2019

Jan 30, 2018
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Kentucky’s top public safety official says the state’s prisons will run out of space by May 2019, possibly forcing the early release of thousands of nonviolent inmates as the state continues to grapple with the effects of a nationwide opioid epidemic.

Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley told state lawmakers Tuesday the state’s prison population is expected to grow by more than 4,400 inmates over the next decade. His comments come as lawmakers are deciding how to spend taxpayer money over the next two years.

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An upcoming fundraiser for the new Oldham County jail is drawing criticism from advocacy groups.

The event, “This Joint is Jumpin,’” invites the public to to spend a night in the new facility. For a contribution of at least $100 to participating nonprofits, donors will be given a tour of the facility, breakfast and dinner, snacks, a commemorative T-shirt, a souvenir mug shot, and “one fun-night in jail.”

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.


Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.

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Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard has resigned after a little more than a year on the job.

A statement from Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokesman Mike Wynn said Ballard resigned to “pursue a private sector venture.”

“We thank him for his service and will immediately begin our search for a permanent replacement,” Wynn said.

Deputy Commissioner Jim Erwin will oversee operations while the agency searches for a replacement, Wynn said.

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Gov. Matt Bevin has signed an executive order that would remove questions about criminal convictions from job applications to work in the state executive branch.

The state would still conduct criminal background checks on applicants. Bevin encouraged private employers to do the same thing, saying the state would “lead by example.”

“Let Kentucky become an example to the nation for all the right reasons,” Bevin said. “I am challenging you as a private employer in Kentucky, join me in leading by example. Let us do what we can to restore opportunity, level the playing field and create new chances for people who have made mistakes, paid their dues and want to mainstream back into society.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Jefferson County’s top prosecutor is calling on Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin to take action on overcrowded jails in Louisville and across the state.

Speaking at a press briefing this week, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said Louisville jails are well beyond capacity, and that’s an issue that hurts the ability of prosecutors and law enforcement to keep violent criminals off the streets.

“The governor and the department of corrections needs to get on the ball,” he said.

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The U.S. Department of Justice’s recently announced investigation into the Boyd County Detention Center is a rarity, only the third such investigation of a Kentucky jail or prison in the past 36 years.

But so far there has been no public disclosure of the basis for the federal probe.

A DOJ press release issued earlier this week referred only to broad categories of focus: whether jail inmates are protected from the use of excessive force, or subjected to “an invasion of their bodily privacy;” and whether the jail “indiscriminately uses restrictive housing without due process.”

Asked for more specific information about why it had initiated the investigation, a DOJ spokesman said “the department will decline to comment beyond our release.”

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Kentuckians with certain Class D felony convictions are now eligible to apply to clear their criminal records as long as they have stayed out of trouble for five years.

The new law also allows people with gubernatorial pardons to expunge convictions and loosens restrictions for clearing misdemeanor convictions.

Louisville attorney Benham Sims, a former Jefferson District Court judge, said the new law will make it easier for people with criminal records to get jobs and get on with their lives.

“The number one way to reduce a return to jail is employment,” Sims said. “We need to allow these people to move on.”

The new law applies to 61 Class D felonies, which constitute about 70 percent of Class D felonies committed. Those with eligible convictions have to wait five years after completing their sentences (incarceration, parole, restitution, probation, etc.) before applying.

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