Prison Reform in Kentucky

Kentucky is on the front line of prison reform

Friday, April 25, 2014


2.3 million Americans are behind bars. Next week, Frontline shows how Kentucky is trying to break the cycle of mass incarceration.

Update (5/2/14): Watch the full episode of Frontline online.

More than two years in the making, Frontline’s “Prison State” focuses on Louisville’s Beecher Terrace, a housing project with a disproportionate number of residents who have been incarcerated. The program airs Tuesday, April 29 at 10/9 p.m. on KET. A 30-second preview of the program is available online.

“Prison State” follows the lives of four individuals rotating between custody and freedom: Keith Huff, one of Kentucky’s most expensive inmates, who has been in and out of prison for the past 40 years; Christel Tribble, 15, facing juvenile incarceration for persistent truancy; Charles McDuffie, an addict and Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD; and Demetria Duncan, a 14-year-old who has been locked up by juvenile authorities four times.

With deep access to the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections, “Prison State” also focuses on the efforts of Mark Bolton, the city’s director of corrections, as he tries to move inmates back into the community.

“We’re locking up people that we’re angry at; we ought to be using this space for people that we’re afraid of, people that are going to hurt us,” Bolton tells Frontline. “We’ve gone through an explosion of prison construction in this country, costing us billions of dollars to build and billions to operate, and we’ve come to a fork in the road where we just can’t do that anymore. We can’t afford it—and we’re locking up people who don’t need to be locked up.”

Representative John Tilley of Hopkinsville and Hasan Davis, commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Juvenile Justice, are also featured in the film, discussing Kentucky’s 2011 criminal justice system reforms and 2014 juvenile justice reforms.

KET hosts follow-up program to Frontline‘s “Prison State”

A week after the Frontline broadcast, KET’s Renee Shaw hosts Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation, a follow-up program examining the issues raised by Frontline. Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation airs Wednesday, May 7 at 10/9 p.m. on KET.

Among those featured on the program are: Rep. John Tilley; former Commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Juvenile Justice Hasan Davis; Kentucky’s Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services Audrey Haynes; Kentucky’s Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet J. Michael Brown; Fayette County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson; Louisville activist Christopher 2X; Louisville Jail Director Mark Bolton; Anthony Smith, director of Metro Louisville Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods Program; and Dr. Sheila Schuster, clinical psychologist and mental health advocate.

Prison State: A Kentucky Community Conversation will focus on the issues surrounding mass incarceration, including public policies, social and family supports, intervention programs, and re-entry barriers, as well as the impact of Kentucky’s criminal and juvenile justice reform efforts.

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