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51 U. Louisville L. Rev. 647 (2013)
Course Corrections: House Bill 463 and Reforming Kentucky’s Broken Criminal Justice System Through Evidence-Based Reinvestment Strategies
Edward M. O’Brien*

The fiscal crisis facing the states has forced state policymakers to reexamine and, when appropriate, abandon tired and long-entrenched policies and programs in an effort to ensure the judicious use of scarce public resources. Perhaps no other area of public policy commands wholesale reexamination and reform more than corrections. With the exception of Medicaid, spending on corrections has emerged as the fastest growing general-fund expenditure in state budgets. In Fiscal Year 2008, states devoted nearly $52 billion in general, special and federal funds to corrections, up 303% in just two decades. One of every fifteen dollars of state general-fund spending is now dedicated to corrections. With states allocating such significant portions of their general-fund budgets to operating, maintaining and building prisons, it is not possible to spare corrections from the significant budget cuts that typically accompany periods of fiscal challenge. Indeed, at least twenty-six states reduced funding for corrections in Fiscal Year 2010. In making these reductions, states struggle to strike the appropriate balance between fiscal constraints and public safety imperatives; in short, policymakers must find ways to extract savings from an overburdened system without jeopardizing public safety.

* J.D. Candidate, 2013, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville; B.S., cum laude, Political Science, May 2010, Sam Houston State University. I am grateful for the encouragement and guidance of many people, only a few of whom are identified here. I am especially indebted to my mom and dad, my grandmother, and the rest of my family, for their unwavering love and support; Les Abramson, for offering the right mixture of praise and constructive criticism to make this Note a stronger work; my editors, for their helpful feedback and suggestions; Elisabeth Fitzpatrick, for showing me the Law Review ropes; and finally, William Ward, Patrick Smith, Nick Whitt, Caleb McDonald, Brad Johnson, Spencer Brooks, Stephanie Carr and all friends, old and new, for their support and friendship. This Note is dedicated to my late grandfather, whose encouragement and example continue to guide and sustain me.