Gov. Beshear highlights need for criminal justice reform

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WBKO News Staff Gov. Andy Beshear outlined the need for criminal justice reforms on Friday, saying the state's prison costs and populations are surging while the state's infrastructure is crumbling.

"Criminal justice reform is not just the right thing to do, but we must do it based on our current reality and on our budget," said Gov. Beshear. "The reality is that, this session we can have robust, non-partisan dialogue and then move forward in a real and meaningful way to address our issues."

Beshear said the state's incarceration population has increased 40% since the fiscal year 2004, and the estimated cost increases to maintain corrections operations through the fiscal year 2022 is more than $115 million.

Beshear also said that the existing locations of the state's institutions are not sustainable. He said the state has lost 1,269 medium-security beds since 2016 due to crumbling infrastructure and the Kentucky state reformatory alone lost 995 beds. Some of the prisons are also not well-positioned to sustain efficient operations.

Gov. Beshear will present his two-year budget priorities on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Beshear said the budget values and prioritizes education, the safety of children and health care.

"The state and our children have suffered enough because of lack of school workers and cuts to education," said Gov. Beshear. "We cannot cut any more bone and we must find limited ways to reinvest."

The presentation can be streamed live on Jan. 28 here.