Hundreds of Kentucky inmates granted early release today

Rep. Tom Burch
Rep. Tom Burch

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Hundreds of inmates are being released from prisons and jails across the state of Kentucky on Tuesday in an effort to save money. It stems from House Bill 463, a major judicial overhaul that passed in the 2010 session of the General Assembly.

Nearly 1,000 inmates will be released from jails and prisons across the state about six months early. It's part of an effort to save more than $40 million dollars, but that's not sitting well with some concerned about safety.

"These are not robbers, rapist, or murderers getting out," said Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, who co-sponsored the bill. "I would say they border on status offenses rather than on hard criminals."

Many are serving sentences for Class D felonies, which are non-violent. A lot have drug offenses.

"It's about $6,000 for treatment and about $24,000 for incarceration, so it's a win-win deal if the person responds to it," said Burch.

The goal is to invest in treatment programs as money becomes available. As of now inmates will be on a supervised released.  

"I want the people to understand that nobody's being let out of there and not being watched," said Burch.

In Bullitt County only three will be released. Jailer Martha Knox of the Bullitt County Detention Center isn't worried about safety, but about the work they do while incarcerated, and asks who will do it when they are released.

"Picking up garbage off the side of the road--a lot of people use them around the courthouses," said Knox. "Now they're going to get them out before we are really able to utilize them, or for any length of time really."

Burch didn't see that as a negative necessarily.  

"Well there's an opportunity for economic development right there," said Burch. "We can start hiring people to clean our roads."

According to reports, of the nearly 1,000 being released statewide about 150 are going back to Louisville.

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