Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | Kentucky | incarceration rate

Rates of Incarceration in Kentucky

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Nov 2015 12:27 AM

With one of the fastest-growing prison populations in the country, Kentucky is among states considering reforms to help curtail the rising costs of corrections.

Kentucky's prison population rose 45 percent in the decade ending in 2009, PBS NewsHour reported. In 2007, the state's prison population increased by 12 percent, nearly double the rate of any other state in the nation, according to a report from the PEW Charitable Trusts' Center on the States, PEN American Center reported.

These statistics may seem surprising as Kentucky is a small state with mostly rural areas, but there is clearly more to crime and punishment in The Bluegrass State than meets the eye.

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Here are some of the most important details about the incarceration rate in Kentucky.

1. Kentucky is a National Leader in Terms of Incarceration Rate
Often referred to as the era of mass incarceration, the years between 1972 and 2008 saw sevenfold prison population growth nationwide, according to a study in the Contemporary Journal of Anthropology and Sociology. Kentucky recorded the greatest increase. According to late 2013 statistics, Kentucky's actual rate is 462 individuals per 100,000 population, which is significantly higher than many other states, but still lower than some states including Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Missouri. States with similar rates for that same time period include Ohio and Michigan.

2. The Parole Board Plays a Large Role in the State's Prison Population
The state's vague sentencing structure plays a big part in how long inmates stay in prison and, therefore, how large the Kentucky prison population is at any given time. Critics of the state's system often blame this factor for its seemingly out-of-control prison growth. Each convict begins by serving the required portion of his sentence (often 85 percent of it) and beyond that, his release date is up to members of the parole board. The decision-making process is subjective, and as the parole rate goes down, the prison rate goes up.

3. Without Big Changes, This Rate Will Only Continue to Grow
The 2010 PEW study pointed to an alarming future for Kentucky corrections facilities if something doesn't change soon. It estimated that within 10 years, the prison population would increase by 40 percent. This would equal adding about 10,000 individuals to the already overcrowded system.

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With one of the fastest-growing prison populations in the country, Kentucky is among states considering reforms to help curtail the rising costs of corrections.
Kentucky, incarceration rate
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2015-27-10
Tuesday, 10 Nov 2015 12:27 AM
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