328 more inmates to walk

By FRED LUCAS State Journal Staff Writer Published:

Gov. Paul Patton announced Tuesday he'll free another 328 nonviolent offenders by Friday, including five inmates from Franklin County facilities.

Patton - already under fire for freeing 567 prisoners last month - will release prisoners with an average remaining time of 136 days left in their sentence. The first group released had an average of 88 days before the end of their sentences.

The new round of releases isn't good news for Franklin County Jailer James Kemper, who already felt the plan left counties in a bad financial predicament. Further, Kemper said it sends the wrong message to inmates.

"Inmates have the idea they can act anyway they want to when there sentence is almost up," Kemper said. "There have been cases of inmates with incidents reported to the Department of Corrections. From what I understand talking to other jailers, it doesn't matter."

The decision to release the inmates is an attempt to offset the state's $500 million shortfall. Patton has said housing fewer nonviolent offenders could reduce costs by $6 million in fiscal year 2003 and by $11 million in fiscal year 2004.

"This continues to be a very difficult decision but one that is absolutely necessary as a part of the solution to Kentucky's severe fiscal revenue shortfall," Patton said in a written statement Tuesday, "which is a situation shared by almost every state in the nation."

For more on this story, see today's State Journal.

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