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Kentucky’s incarceration rate among highest in the world

Kentucky puts six times as many people behind bars as the UK, and nine times as many as Italy.

1 min read

A new study shows Kentucky has the sixth-highest incarceration rate in the nation. The report by the Massachusetts-based Prison Policy Initiative also compares the commonwealth’s percentage of people in jail or prison with democratic countries around the world. Wanda Bertram is a spokesperson for the nonprofit.

“If Kentucky were an independent country all its own, it would have a higher incarceration rate than any country in the world, except for the country of El Salvador, which has had, unfortunately, really high incarceration rates in recent years and has been run as a police state, more or less.”

Bertram cited several reasons for Kentucky’s high ranking:

“You have a prison system where tons of people in Kentucky prisons, just to give an example, are held there for non-criminal violations of their probation or parole. So, yes, we think these people should be released.”

Bertram also mentioned a 2021 report by the Kentucky Center on Economic Policy. It showed after a major criminal justice reform law ten years before, the state legislature increased sentences for several drug offenses, including possession.


Written by John McGary. Cross-posted from WEKU.

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