A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bevin announces new state-run prison in Eastern Kentucky to address overcrowding in county jails

Gov. Matt Bevin joined the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Personnel Cabinet on Friday to announce plans to operate a new state-run prison in Floyd County to address overcrowding in county jails. Southeast State Correctional Complex will be housed in an existing privately-owned, 650-bed facility in Wheelwright, providing much-needed space for medium-security inmates. The prison will...

Kentucky launches partnership with nation’s largest evidence-based reentry employment provider

The Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) has announced the opening of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) — a program that provides immediate, comprehensive employment services to people returning home from prison. CEO began offering reentry services in the Louisville metro area on Aug. 12. The program focuses outreach on those with the highest likelihood of returning to prison and...

Department of Corrections launches aftercare program for inmates recovering from substance use disorder

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley joined with the state Department of Corrections (DOC) this week to announce the first-ever aftercare program within a Kentucky prison, providing a new system of support, mentoring and peer accountability for offenders in recovery from a substance use disorder. The innovative program, known as SOAR (Supporting Others in Active Recovery), focuses on relapse prevention,...

Boyd County jailer requests state remove 60 inmates from troubled detention center to alleviate pressure

By Mark Maynard Kentucky Today In an effort to relieve overcrowding, 60 state inmates are being removed from a Kentucky jail that is reeling from two years of problems, including the death of two inmates in the last week. Boyd County Jailer William Hensley, who was elected to the position in November but took over a month early because of the resignation of the previous jailer, asked for the state...

Kentucky Department of Corrections expanding public alert system to include halfway houses

The Kentucky Department of Corrections is expanding its automatic notification system to provide public alerts in the event of an inmate escape from a halfway house, Commissioner Jim Erwin announced Wednesday. The department has already used the notification system, AlertXpress, for more than a decade, providing alerts in instances where an inmate escapes from a prison. By the end of this year, the...

DOC signs agreement with CoreCivic to transfer 800 inmates to Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville

Faced with aging facilities and a growing inmate population, the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) has signed an agreement with CoreCivic that will help address those long-standing challenges while providing the highest level of inmate safety, public oversight, and accountability. The agreement will allow DOC to transfer approximately 800 inmates to the Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville within...

The Human Rights Defense Center files federal lawsuit against Kentucky Department of Corrections

A national human rights organization has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) for violating its free speech, due process and equal protection rights. The Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC), a Florida-based nonprofit organization that has spent nearly thirty years protecting the rights of people in U.S. detention facilities, argues the KDOC is guilty of censoring...

Bevin restores right to vote, hold public office to certain groups of convicted felons

Gov. Matt Bevin restored the right to vote and hold public office to certain offenders who have completed their respective sentences and have applied for restoration of their civil rights. The orders exclude individuals convicted of violent or sex crimes, bribery or treason. “We have always been a nation of second chances,” said Bevin. “The criminal justice system should not exist...

Storms damage several Kentucky state prisons; visitation canceled at state penitentiary Thursday

Severe storms ripped through the state Wednesday causing damage to seven of Kentucky’s 12 state prisons. Torrential rain and wind was to blame for the severe damage. The facilities hit the hardest were Kentucky State Penitentiary (KSP) and Western Kentucky Correctional Complex (WKCC) in Lyon County, and Blackburn Correctional Complex (BCC) in Lexington. The roof of the gym at Kentucky State Penitentiary...

Commentary: Immediate attention needed in corrections to avoid another consent decree

By John Rees Special to KyForward In the 1980s, Kentucky’s corrections system was under a federal consent decree as a result of overcrowding and other persistent problems. Many positive changes have been made since that time, including improvements in programing and substance abuse treatment, medical services, accreditation, and improved jail standards. However, there are a growing number of similarities...

Rodney Ballard named Commissioner for Kentucky Department of Corrections, replacing Thompson

Rodney Ballard, a 35-year career law enforcement and corrections’ professional, has been appointed as the new Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. LaDonna Thompson, a 27-year veteran of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, has announced her intent to retire as Commissioner March 1. “In Rodney Ballard, we have a professional who has extensive experience and expertise in both...

Trouble Behind Bars: Kentucky jail deaths go largely unnoticed despite one every 15 days

  (KYCIR photo/Thinkstock)   First in a series   By R.G. Dunlop Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting   HAZARD—Larry Trent was just one of the 154 or more inmates who died in a Kentucky jail during the past six and a half years.   Arrested on July 5, 2013, in his car outside a Hazard doughnut shop, the 54-year-old Trent told police he drank “about four beers and mouthwash”...

New course turns learning ‘Inside-Out’
for college students, Blackburn inmates

UK students and Blackburn Correctional Complex students meet once a week at the minimum-security prison in Lexington. (Photo from UKNow)   By Ann Blackford Special to KyForward   A new course at the University of Kentucky is putting 16 college students behind prison walls once a week.   The students are participating in a unique learning opportunity this semester with incarcerated individuals...