LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - More than 13% of Kentucky's children have an incarcerated parent. That's higher than any other state.
Kentucky imprisons more of its population than nearly every other state and foreign country, and imprisons women at twice the national rate.
And it is getting worse, not better.
Kentucky's prison population has grown more than 30% over the past five years and there is no slowdown in sight.
These numbers must change. Much of the growth has come from imprisoning low level, nonviolent offenders, furthering family disintegration.
It is encouraging the governor did not earmark a penny for new prisons in his budget address. It is time to stop sending so many people to jail, and intensify efforts to find alternatives.
More than half the country has reduced both their incarceration rates and crime rates.
Providing released prisoners a path to productive living is a must for cutting the recidivism rate, as is reclassifying most simple drug possession charges to misdemeanors.
Cutting out missing a scheduled office visit as a parole violation would also help. It is the cause of nine out of every 10 new prison admissions for parole violations.
Restorative justice should be considered more often. It involves the defendant offering a remedy to the victim instead of receiving a prison sentence.
Decreasing the prison population is a necessary first step to enable the Commonwealth to grow at a pace necessary to sustain competitiveness nationally.