Commonwealth Policy Center

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley told a legislative committee that Kentucky has a huge problem of prison overcrowding and is “dealing with a powder keg at the state level and the county level. There’s not enough time to discuss how much of a powder keg this really is. We are lucky, as a state, that something hasn’t happened which would draw national headlines.” In 1970, Kentucky had about 3,000 people in prison and spent $5 million to house them. Today, Kentucky houses 24,000 in prison and it costs the Commonwealth $650 million. That’s a 700 percent increase.” Kentucky has the 10th-highest per capita incarceration rate in the nation and the second highest incarceration rate for women. Which begs the question: is locking people up the best way to mete out justice? Tilley and others are looking for criminal justice reform, which means they’ll be looking for alternative ways to mete our justice in the future.