Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates
Only one other state in the country has a higher rate of parental incarceration than Kentucky. At 15%, the Commonwealth has nearly double the national average of children who have experienced a parent incarcerated. That fact alone affirms the Kentucky Justice Reinvestment Work Group’s efforts to redefine the criminal justice system to protect public safety while addressing the growing prison populations, high recidivism rate, and escalating costs. It’s clear that the Commonwealth must make improvements when it comes to incarceration.
We must hold offenders accountable and protect public safety. We also must recognize that when a parent is in jail or prison, it creates an unstable environment for kids that can have lasting effects like poverty, changes in living situations, and mental and emotional health issues. The Justice Reinvestment Work Group’s recommendations include focusing prison and jail resources on serious and violent offenders and strengthening community supervision, among others. We appreciate the efforts of the Justice Reinvestment Work Group to identify opportunities for substantive reforms to our criminal justice system that keep families intact and prioritize public safety.