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Commowealth's Attorney Concerned Rehabilitation Facilities Can't Handle Early Release Program

by Dan Conti, Kentucky Public RadioThe Commonwealth's Attorney for thee eastern Kentucky counties has concerns about a mandatory release program that begins next week.The Department of Corrections is due to release nearly 1,000 nonviolent felons back into their communities as part of an effort to save on prison costs. The released prisoners will be on probationBut Anna Melvin isn't sure the rehabilitation programs are in place to ensure an effective transition. Melvin is the Commonwealth's Attorney for the 24th District, covering Lawrence, Johnson and Martin counties. She supports initiatives to curb drug addiction, but says there aren't enough facilities to take in everyone who needs help.“I'm really frustrated that they don't have enough beds for people," she says. "They're telling us to do this, but where are we going to send them? Are we going to send them back home because we can't put them in jail. I'm anxious to see six months from now how things are and what the recidivism rate is on these people they just keep turning back to the public.”Melvin is similarly worried that convicted thieves won't have access to programs to keep them from becoming repeat offenders.Supporters of the program say it will save about $40 million a year and the paroled prisoners will be closely monitored to ensure they don't commit more crimes. 

Gabe Bullard is the director of news and editorial strategy.