Nearly 70% of all inmates released by Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) through commutations during the coronavirus pandemic went on to re-offend, with some committing violent felonies like assault and homicide, according to a report ordered by Kentucky’s state legislature.
The report, produced by Kentucky’s Department of Information and Technology Services, found that of the 1,702 individuals whose sentences were commuted by Beshear in 2020, a majority of them, 882, went on to commit felonies. An additional 252 committed misdemeanors, leaving just over 500 who committed no crimes.
Beshear commuted criminal sentences through two distinct executive orders, both of which were examined in the report. of those from the April 3, 2020, release cohort “68% of individuals … have had at least one criminal case including at least a misdemeanor charge filed against them since release.” The reoffending rate was nearly identical for those released on August 24, 2020, with the report finding that “69% of individuals …have had at least one criminal case including at least a misdemeanor charge filed against them.”
The report was due to the legislature in July, but was not produced until October 6, just about a month before Beshear is up for reelection. Beshear will face Kentucky’s Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who has worked to make the commutations a theme of the election battle.
The pair sparred over the issue of crime in a recent gubernatorial debate ahead of the November 7 election, with Cameron stating the findings of the report on the debate stage. Cameron said the commutations made “communities less safe, and our law enforcement’s job more difficult.”
Meanwhile, Beshear has touted an inaccurate crime report as evidence that crime has plummeted over the last year. He says the commutation statistics are irrelevant, because many of the inmates were set to be released that year anyway.
Beshear did not respond to a request for comment. Polling in the state has been sparse ahead of the gubernatorial election, but an October poll found Beshear to have a comfortable lead over Cameron.