FRANKFORT, Ky. — A new report shows nearly a third of Kentucky inmates who were released by order of the governor due to the pandemic have been charged with a felony since getting out of prison. 

What You Need To Know

  • A new report shows nearly a third of Kentucky inmates who were released due to the pandemic were later charged with a felony

  • The report is from the Administrative Office of the Courts

  • Gov. Beshear issued orders commuting the sentences of more than 1,700 inmates 

  • The governor said only nonviolent, non-sexual offenders were eligible for commutation 

With COVID-19 spreading quickly through Kentucky’s prisons last year, Gov. Andy Beshear ordered the release of more than 1,700 inmates.

“We made what I believe are reasonable decisions," Beshear said Monday.  

A document first reported on by the Courier-Journal from the Administrative Office of the Courts shows 553 people, or nearly a third of those released, were later charged with a felony. 

According to the report, 262 others were later charged with a misdemeanor.

Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, was originally supportive of releasing some prisoners, he told Spectrum News 1.

"So we asked, 'What are the parameters of who you’re going to be releasing?' and the governor told us no violent, no sexual offenders and nobody who was sentenced to more than five years," said Nemes. 

Asked about the report Monday, Beshear said, "The only people that were eligible for commutation to ensure we were protecting their safety were nonviolent, non-sexual offenders. Those were the only people who were eligible and they had to be within six months of their release and/or be over 65 and have really terrible health conditions." 

Nemes said information from the Department of Corrections shows some of the inmates released had been sentenced to more than five years and convicted of serious crimes, like wanton endangerment. 

"We want to make sure that Governor Beshear nor any future governor has this kind of a broad-based release without looking at individuals and making a determination as to whether that individual is a real danger to our community," Nemes said. 

Nemes said lawmakers are requesting more information on the inmates released. 

Morgan Hall, communications director for the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, told Spectrum News 1 that the report “does not disclose key pieces of information, including actual convictions” and “only considers an individual’s initial sentence length and does not explain or account for statutory and good time credit.” 

Hall said information in the report indicates most charges came more than six months after the commutations, "meaning some individuals would not still have been incarcerated." 

Beshear said his office will be looking at each person released to see if they were charged with anything during the time they would have been in prison.