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JRI Years: 2011, 2017, 2023



Kentucky had one of the fastest-growing prison populations in the United States between 2000 and 2009.1 In 2009, the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Task Force was created to “seek new ways to protect public safety while controlling the growth of prison costs.” The Task Force partnered with The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Crime and Justice Institute, and the JFA Institute to develop recommendations that led to a set of reforms which were codified in HB 463.2


In 2011, Kentucky passed House Bill 463, The Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act, which was signed into law by then-Governor Steve Beshear. This legislation strengthened community corrections availability and practices through using a risk and needs assessment, using evidence-based practices, and focusing resources on those individuals at a higher risk of reoffending. The bill allocated $26 million to support local correctional facilities.3 Further, the Act prompted multiple policy and practice changes.


As a result of the policy changes, the state allocated $26 million to the Local Corrections Assistance Fund, supporting local correctional facilities and programs that house nearly half of the state’s incarcerated population.4 Kentucky substantially expanded access to substance use treatment by doubling corrections-based treatment slots and establishing 1,400 beds in the Community Substance Abuse Program to improve treatment availability in the community.5

For more information, see Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Kentucky.

JRI-Driven Policies and Practices

  • Establish/expand presumptive probation for some offenses
  • Establish/revise presentence assessment
  • Improve/revise pretrial release systems
  • Reclassify/redefine drug offenses
  • Revise drug-free school zone
  • Revise sentencing enhancements
  • Revise parole hearings/decision/eligibility standards
  • Establish/expand earned discharge (probation/parole)
  • Authorize performance incentive funding
  • Authorize administrative jail sanctions
  • Authorize/develop/modify graduated responses or matrices for violations
  • Establish/improve electronic monitoring
  • Establish mandatory reentry supervision
  • Require/improve risk-needs assessment
  • Require evidence-based practices
  • Reform/establish specialty courts or diversion programs
  • Require fiscal impact statements
  • Require data collection/performance measures



In 2017, then-Governor Matt Bevin convened the Justice Reinvestment Work Group as a continuation of the Kentucky Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council formed the previous year. He tasked the Work Group with studying Kentucky’s growing prison population and developing policy that could reduce corrections populations while still protecting public safety.6 With technical assistance from the Crime and Justice Institute, the Work Group issued 20 recommendations that were incorporated into House Bill 396. However, the bill was not voted out of committee.7



In Kentucky, half of all adults will experience contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking in their lifetimes ​with 48 percent of all women and nearly 53 percent of all men in the commonwealth experiencing contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking in their lifetimes.8 Domestic violence (DV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) also seem to comprise a significant proportion of violent crimes in Kentucky. Analysis of National Incident-Based Reporting System data indicates that 47.5 percent of all incidents of crimes against people in the state involve DV or IPV.9

In the winter of 2023, commonwealth leaders embarked on a Justice Reinvestment Initiative with technical assistance from the CSG Justice Center and support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to address Kentucky’s DV and IPV challenges. Commonwealth leaders will receive state-specific, data-driven policy recommendations for consideration during the 2025 legislative session aimed at reducing the prevalence of DV and IPV throughout Kentucky, breaking the cycle of recidivism, and reducing victimization.

1 The Urban Institute, 2019, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI): Kentucky, Washington, DC: Urban Institute, retrieved May 19, 2023 from

2 Kentucky Department of Corrections, 2012, House Bill 463 Implementation Evidence-based Practices and Programs, retrieved June 22, 2023 from

3 Chelsea Thomson and Samantha Harvell, 2019, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI): Kentucky, Washington, DC: Urban Institute, retrieved May 19, 2023 from

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid., 2.

7 Ibid., 1.

8 Sharon G. Smith et al., “The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2016/2017 State Report” (Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2023), See pp. 74-75 and 86-87 for state-specific IPV rates.

9 CSG Justice Center analysis of Jacob Kaplan’s Concatenated Files: National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Data, 1991–2022. Ann Arbor, MI: Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2023-10-28.

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