Fact No. 1 – Kentucky has 12 state prisons for adult offenders and all are filled beyond capacity.
Fact No. 2 – Kentucky is holding more state prisoners in county jails than in its own institutions. Many jails with state inmates are at 200 percent of capacity. Some are higher.
Fact No. 3 – Kentucky has not raised its $31.16 daily rate (per diem) paid to county jails for housing state prisoners in 10 years. Inmates in state prisons cost more than $70 per day.
Fact No. 4 – At first, only state prisoners sentenced to 1-5 years for Class D felonies were housed in county jails. State inmates facing 5-10 years for Class C crimes have been added.
Fact No. 5 – Overcrowded county jails have more prisoner-on-prisoner violence, even deaths, because non-violent and violent inmates have been thrown together.
Fact No. 6 – Several counties with newly-enlarged jails were convinced by state officials to help pay their debt service for larger facilities by taking more prisoners
Fact No. 7 – Kentucky has tried and failed to reform its criminal justice laws to lessen certain sentences like drug possession.
Conclusion No. 1 – Neither the state nor the counties with bulging jails can afford to build more spaces for criminals.
Conclusion No. 2 – Prison reformers have a mountain of evidence to use to convince the federal courts to order a wholesale release of lower-level prisoners from dangerously overcrowded cellblocks.
Where will they go?