Franklin County

Beshear exempts most public safety agencies from proposed cuts

Gov. Steve Beshear's budget proposal would spare most public safety agencies from cuts, including Kentucky State Police, prosecutors, public defenders and much of the prison system.

However, the Department of Juvenile Justice and the administrative offices of the Corrections Department and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet would be among those agencies slated for a 2 percent cut in fiscal year 2011, which begins July 1.

Beshear called public protection one of his main priorities, noting that the Kentucky State Police has the fewest sworn officers since 1995. Sparing the agency will allow it to train another cadet class to replace retiring troopers, said Mary Lassiter, Beshear's budget director and secretary of his cabinet.

The Corrections Department's budget would increase by more than $2.4 million in 2011 and more than $8 million the following year largely because of rising health care costs for prisoners, Lassiter said.

But cost-saving measures are preventing those increases from being greater, she said.

Those measures include shifting 400 prisoners now in private prisons or county jails into state-run prisons, which could reduce "the cost-per-day" of housing them, Lassiter said. It costs about $19,000 to house a prisoner in the state system for a year.

Other measures aimed at saving money include expanding the home incarceration program, which the legislature previously approved but had been delayed by technical problems with monitoring bracelets; moving female inmates from the privately operated Otter Creek prison to the state-owned Western Kentucky Correctional Complex; and diverting some parolees to receive their mandatory substance abuse rehabilitation through halfway houses and Recovery Kentucky Centers.