KY Policy Blog

Roundup on Kentucky’s Criminal Justice Reform Needs and Options

By Ashley Spalding
October 11, 2016

Kentucky’s criminal justice issues have been in the news recently. The majority of Kentucky’s full-service jails are at or over capacity, and the state is considering reopening private prisons as a temporary solution to jail overcrowding despite the negative aspects of doing so, which have led the U.S. Justice Department to end its use of private prisons. A related issue is the consistent denial of bail credit in Kentucky, which contributes to the jail overcrowding problem by keeping people in jail pre-trial who should qualify for release; bail credit is read more

Promising Reform Options Being Considered by Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council

By Ashley Spalding
October 6, 2016

The state’s Criminal Justice Policy Assessment Council (CJPAC) is developing ideas in the areas of drug policy, prevention, jail reform, penal code reform, reentry, recidivism reduction, and probation and parole reforms. At last week’s CJPAC meeting, work groups addressing those issues described some of the reforms they are considering as recommendations to the administration and legislature.

Here are several promising reforms under consideration:

Expanding drug courts. Drug courts target criminal defendants and offenders who have substance abuse problems. They are designed to reduced drug use relapse and recidivism through graduated read more

Infographic: Why Kentuckians Will Benefit from New Overtime Rule

By Kenny Colston
October 3, 2016

An estimated 149,000 salaried Kentucky workers will become entitled to overtime protections under President Obama’s increase to the overtime salary threshold announced in May, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Over the years, this threshold has eroded, and the change will mean protections from unpaid hours for many low salary workers, an increase in jobs as employers must rely less on unpaid labor and salary boosts for some workers. Recently, several governors, including Kentucky’s, filed a lawsuit against this new rule. But this update to fair read more

Department of Labor Rule Clears the Way for State Sponsored Retirement Plan for Private Sector Workers

By Ashley Spalding
September 29, 2016

A new federal Department of Labor (DOL) rule clears the way for states to offer a particular model of retirement plan for private sector workers without it being subject to regulation under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1972 (ERISA). We previously described how too many Kentuckians are underprepared for retirement — with hundreds of thousands of private sector workers not having access to a retirement plan through their employer, particularly those working for small businesses. The new DOL rule provides a great opportunity for states like Kentucky read more

New Data Shows Kentucky Has Third-Highest Student Loan Default Rate for Second Consecutive Year

By Ashley Spalding
September 28, 2016

Data released today by the U.S. Department of Education shows  Kentuckians leaving college with student loan debt are among the most likely to default nationwide. The state’s new default rate of 15.5 percent is down from last year’s 16.3 percent, but Kentucky continues to have the 3rd-highest student loan default rate in the nation (behind New Mexico and West Virginia); the national default rate is 11.3 percent, down just slightly from 11.8 percent last year. This new default rate data underscores the college affordability problems in our state, particularly for read more

Corrections Data Shows Positive Impact of HB 463 That Additional Criminal Justice Reforms Can Build On

By Ashley Spalding
September 28, 2016

The impact of Kentucky’s 2011 criminal justice reforms on the state’s inmate population and budget have been much less than what was projected when Kentucky enacted HB 463, or the “Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act.” In fact, the state’s inmate population is now higher than it was in 2011, and the rate of inmates returning to prison after release — “recidivism” — is on the rise. However, new Department of Corrections (DOC) data shows that there have been some successes with HB 463, which should be built on with read more

New State Report Shows Little to No Progress on Achievement Gaps

By Ashley Spalding
September 9, 2016

The Council on Postsecondary Education’s latest accountability report, which was released yesterday, shows Kentucky has continued to make little to no progress on some important higher education measures. While the state has increased the number of degrees and credentials earned each year since the baseline year, achievement gaps remain for low-income, underrepresented minority and academically underprepared students.

Here are some highlights from the report, which focuses on progress made in 2013-2014 toward meeting the goals set out in the state’s 2011-2015 Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education.

Increase in read more

Criminal Justice Reform and Racial Disparities in Kentucky

By Ashley Spalding
September 8, 2016

Nationally, the racial disparities that exist in the criminal justice system are well-known, with African Americans being overrepresented in prisons and jails. These racial disparities are also present in Kentucky’s criminal justice system, which is one reason why it is so important the state move forward with needed reforms.

Despite the majority of inmates in Kentucky being white, African Americans are disproportionately represented in the state’s criminal justice system. African Americans are eight percent of the adult population but:

14.4 percent of all arrests; 15.7 percent of all arrests for read more

A County-by-County Look at Potential Enrollment Decreases from Proposed Medicaid Waiver

By Dustin Pugel
September 1, 2016

The Governor is seeking to make changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program in a way that would result in 87,639 fewer traditional and expanded Medicaid enrollees by 2021, according to official projections. This represents a total drop in enrollment of 6.6 percent from the starting point of October 2015. What does that mean across Kentucky counties?

The map below shows how many people would likely lose coverage in each Kentucky county if the enrollment drops were proportional to the traditional and expansion Medicaid population in counties. Enrollment drops are steepest in read more

Modest Savings from Medicaid Waiver Ignore Added Costs and Mostly Don’t Come from Expansion Population

By Dustin Pugel
August 31, 2016

The Bevin administration has submitted the revised version of its request to make changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program and continues to tout the plan’s savings. However, projected state savings are only from covering fewer people, and those savings are small and don’t primarily come from the Medicaid expansion population, which is the portion of Medicaid the administration says we cannot afford. What’s more, savings diminish once the costs of a less-healthy population, the economic losses from fewer federal dollars into the state and higher administrative costs to operate the new read more