Kentucky has made significant strides in putting former prisoners on a path toward productive lives and away from committing new crimes, says Gov. Andy Beshear, who announced that the state’s recidivism rate dropped to a record-low 27.15% -- meaning barely more than 1-in-4 people released from prison are committing new crimes, the Associated Press reports. The reoffending rate was 44.56% in 2017. Recidivism is defined by the state as a new felony committed within 24 months of release or a return to state custody based on a technical violation of supervision. Beshear touted the success of several initiatives for helping state inmates secure jobs and addiction treatment at record levels, which he credited for keeping more people from returning to prison. The programs offer people the “second chances that the Bible teaches us to give,” the governor said. “Those are people that are getting in secure jobs, hopefully getting back with their families."
Beshear spoke amid his reelection campaign against Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, the state’s attorney general. Public safety looms as a key issue in this year’s race, which could offer a preview of voter sentiment ahead of 2024 campaigns for the White House and control of Congress. Cameron has bashed the governor’s record on combating crime. State Republican Party spokesman Sean Southard said Beshear was describing an “alternate universe,” adding that “the reality is he sits on his hands while violent crime goes up.”
Beshear said public safety is enhanced when released prisoners are given opportunities meant to help ensure they don’t commit new crimes. The employment rate among those released from state incarceration has reached 57%, compared to 49% four years ago, Beshear said.