LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – In a move that is expected to save the state millions of dollars, nearly 1,000 Kentucky inmates walked out of prison Tuesday. Many of the inmates left area prisons and came straight to the Greyhound station in Louisville to either catch a bus somewhere else or, in some cases, to get access to a facility to help them get back on their feet.
David Lagrois was released from the Grant County Detention Center for possession of a controlled substance after serving five months of a five year sentence. When Lagrois arrived to the bus station, he carried a small bag of his belongings.
"Toothpaste, deodorant, stuff, and sandals and what not I had of my property," said Lagrois.
The early release is a result of House Bill 463 which passed the state legislature in 2011. It allows certain prisoners within six months of their release date to leave under the supervision of Kentucky Department of Probation and Parole. The inmates' convictions range from drug possession, assault, robbery, and burglary, some more violent including manslaughter and reckless homicide.
"I served six years at Kentucky State Reformatory for trafficking drugs and possession of a firearm," said Rick Calvert.
"I got six years," said Joshua Braden, "I did about 3.5."
The move is designed to cut $40 million from the Department of Corrections annual budget and to keep inmates from repeating their mistakes.
"It's a great thing," said Braden. "The prison is overcrowded. They ain't got no room, no medical, barely feeding us."
"I think totally different now than the way I did," Calvert said. "It helped me."
The Department of Corrections says it costs about $21,000 a year to house a state prisoner in Kentucky. In comparison, it costs about $987 each year to supervise out-of-custody convicts.
From the Greyhound bus station, many of the inmates were loaded up into a van and taken to places to help them get back on their feet.
"We have 140 beds available and somewhere around 100 will be coming through the doors today," said Jay Davidson, president and CEO of the Healing Place.
Davidson said The Brady Center in Louisville offers up a transitional housing program. The former inmates are now referred to as clients. They are given a meal, a bed to sleep in, and direction to get back on track and out of the prison system.
"We are starting on the front end of that six months and give them every opportunity to remain successful and give them the skills, learn how to deal with life and make adjustments to the new environment they haven't seen," said Davidson.
"It kinda lets us know that people are out there willing to give us a second chance and try to do what we didn't do before," said Calvert.
Of the nearly 1,000 inmates released Tuesday, only four were released from Louisville Metro Corrections. The four were being held for parole and probation violations.
The WAVE 3 Facebook page was filled with comments from viewers outraged about the early release. However, Davidson said with this program the inmates are under supervision via Kentucky Probation and Parole, something that would not have happened if the inmates had served out their full sentence.
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