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Gov. Beshear, Department of Corrections Celebrate Second Chance Month

​State's recidivism rate at historic low

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 11, 2022) - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear and the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) are joining the nation in recognition of April being Second Chance Month by taking the time to acknowledge the work being done to assist the justice-involved population with successful reentry into their communities.

Since 2017, Second Chance Month has been designated by the President as a month to bring together communities and organizations throughout the nation to raise awareness of barriers that ex-offenders face upon reentering society. The goal is to show that those who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance at becoming successful law-abiding citizens. The communities benefit from joining in the effort because it allows the individual the ability to become a productive tax-paying member where they live.

“This national recognition is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the wider consequences of a criminal conviction, and to unlock opportunities for people who have completed their debts to society," Gov. Beshear said. “When resources and assistance are made available to those exiting the criminal justice system, recidivism is reduced, which produces a positive outcome for the community at large, and that's something we can all agree is a good thing."

Right now throughout the commonwealth there are over 19,000 individuals serving felony convictions in state prisons or jails, as well as an additional 47,500 on active supervision with the Division of Probation and Parole. At least 95% of the state inmate population will be released from incarceration at some point. 

Currently, the DOC recidivism rate is at 29.17%, which is a historic low. 

“Everyone in society has a time in their lives when they need help," said DOC Commissioner Cookie Crews. “Every day, our staff help people in need and make a difference in individuals' lives. I hope each and every staff member in DOC sees that, no matter their position in the department, they are making a difference."

In February 2021, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and DOC announced a multi-agency collaboration to provide state identification cards for Kentucky's justice-involved population. The joint partnership between the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Transportation Cabinet, with funding assistance from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, allows inmates being released from state custody to walk out of prison with a state ID card in hand. 

Having an ID provides a permanent long-term solution to assist the justice-involved population with successful reintegration into the community as they obtain employment, find housing, receive financial assistance and access additional needed services. The ID also assists released inmates who want to obtain driver's licenses on their own.

A couple of years ago, DOC received a grant from the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort to train six additional reentry coordinators to become certified job specialists. The DOC's Division of Reentry Services now employees 10 reentry coordinators who are working with individuals scheduled to be released from prisons, and linking them with available employment opportunities. Recently, DOC received additional grant funding to hire seven jail reentry coordinators to assist inmates being released from select local county jails.  

“Since the creation of the Division of Reentry Services in 2018, DOC has been able to provide many opportunities for the population that historically we weren't able to," said DOC Division of Reentry Services Director Kristin Porter. “We have 81 amazing employees across the state whose sole purpose is to assist the justice-involved population with reentry efforts in a variety of ways. I am excited for Second Chance Month and to highlight for the commonwealth some of the outstanding things our division offers and the topnotch staff we have."

During Second Chance Month, DOC will highlight the Division of Reentry Services and the second chances they help provide to the justice-involved population to assist in rebuilding their lives. These highlights will be shared via DOC's Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Building a Better Kentucky through Second Chances

Due to the leadership of the Beshear-Coleman administration, the Kentucky economy is booming, with a number of sectors showing growth through investments and job creation. By working together, the commonwealth is building a better Kentucky full of opportunity for all Kentuckians; and the state's commitment to offering second chances remains a priority. 

Kentucky has trained 4,000 business leaders across the commonwealth as second chance employers, provided 227 technical workshops and held 435 second chance employment job fairs, representing 7,500 jobs. One way is through the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment; a program where the state contracted to provide job specialists at 12 career centers located throughout the commonwealth to link individuals recently released from prison or in recovery from addiction with available jobs.

The administration is also working to prevent re-incarceration through a statewide project that provides transportation at no charge to former inmates so they can access substance abuse recovery facilities, medical appointments, job interviews, educational courses, probation and parole meetings and employment. DOC is partnering with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to serve nearly 50,000 Kentuckians, currently under the supervision of probation or parole, who can utilize this project.

In Sept. 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that through a collaborative effort between state government, health care and the business community, the commonwealth had launched a new initiative to help employers address addiction, boost hiring and retention and support employees in the workplace. The initiative, known as the Kentucky Transformational Employment Program, is the result of legislation signed into law by the Governor following the passage of Senate Bill 191 in 2020.

In April 2021, the Governor signed House Bill 497 into law to remove barriers to reentry by tasking DOC with issuing certificates of employability to those who successfully complete programs while incarcerated. In addition, the bill incentivizes employers by providing liability protections and further encourages other important reentry supports such as IDs and better access to health care for people leaving incarceration. For a statement from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on HB 497 click here.

Additional information is available here