FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — County leaders and local jailers are trying to jump-start discussion of legislation they say could benefit county and state budgets.
The Kentucky Jailers Association is mounting a push for Senate Bill 128, which would establish a performance-based funding model for housing state prisoners in county jails.
State Sen. Jimmy Higdon, a Marion County Republican, introduced the measure more than a month ago but the Senate Judiciary Committee has not acted. The idea has been around more than a decade as the state continues to struggle with prison overcrowding, criminal justice reform and demands on local jails.
“County jails have not received a per diem increase in more than 15 years despite significantly increased costs. Senate Bill 128 is a fiscally prudent way to use taxpayer money to not only house inmates but to reduce recidivism and save state and local government significant dollars, directly and indirectly,” said Jailers Association President Brad Boyd.
Boyd and his group are pushing the work local jails already are doing to try to help turn felons in productive citizens. He said local jails have created successful programs for inmates, addressing everything from drug addictions to mental health issues.
“Successful programs make the best use of inmates’ time in our facilities — getting inmates out of the corrections system and back to being productive, contributing members of society. By tying increased funding for jails to performance, Senate Bill 128 incentivizes a new norm for inmate care that will help with overcrowding and reduce recidivism, two costly issues that must be addressed,” Boyd explained.
As an example, Boyd said the state currently pays $31.94 per day, although actual costs are $56.00/day, for a state inmate to be housed in a county jail. Under Senate Bill 128, the inmate would be entered into programming with a goal of a decreased sentence of 90 days. If the inmate successfully completes the training and leaves the jail 90 days early, the jail will receive $1,000 from the state. Had the inmate stayed for the additional 90 days, the state would have had to pay out an additional $2,826.