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Evaluation of Kentucky's Early Inmate Release Initiative: Sentence Commutations, Public Safety and Recidivism

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 74 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2010 Pages: 22-26
Gennaro F. Vito; Richard Tewksbury; George E. Higgins
Date Published
December 2010
5 pages
This article presents the results of an evaluation of Kentucky's early inmate release initiative implemented to reduce the size and cost of the prison population.
The evaluation found that reincarceration rates were about the same for the early release group (40 percent) and the comparison group (38.7 percent); Black offenders released early had statistically significant higher reincarceration rates than White offenders released early; and age and sex also showed significant differences, with young offenders and male offenders having significantly higher reincarceration rates than older offenders and female offenders. This study examined Kentucky's early inmate release initiative to determine whether there was a threat to public safety by managing prison populations through effective release policies and practices. Data for the study came from an assessment of recidivism patterns of a group of prison inmates released through sentence commutation (n=866) and a matched control group of inmates not released (n=866). Several variables used in the analysis: offender sex, race, and age; county of commitment; original conviction offense; the inmate's last custody level while incarcerated; and whether the offender was reincarcerated within 5 years of release, and if so, for what offense. The findings from the study indicate that inmates released through sentence commutation pose no greater threat to the safety of the community than those inmates released at the end of their sentences. Tables and references