Many of the criminals who Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear released under executive commutation during the COVID-19 pandemic went on to commit new crimes, a report from the state’s government showed.
The report examined the criminal records of the approximately 1,700 criminals that Beshear had released in April and August of 2020 to reduce the prison population during the pandemic. Of those released, roughly 70% went on to commit crimes, with 50% committing felonies within less than a year of their release.
“I believe the last round of commutations was fairly successful at getting people back in society and making sure they are healthy, and we are looking for the same here,” Beshear said after releasing a second round of inmates in August 2020, according to ABC13 WBKO. “I wish each of those individuals a better life moving forward, one that is constructive, one that they can find purpose in, whether that be faith, family or a good job. Let’s help make sure we can work with these individuals and give second chances.”
Crime spiked in 2021 following Beshear’s commutation order and remained above pre-pandemic levels until 2023, the report showed. Overall crime in April 2021, which marked the crime level peak in Kentucky, reached record levels which was higher than the previous record high by 36%, although the report noted that a relatively small number of released offenders contributed to the jump in crime.
The majority of the offenders who committed felonies were charged with drug or property-related crimes, while most of those who committed misdemeanors were charged with motor vehicle-related crimes, the report showed. Some of the most serious felonies committed included kidnapping and assault.
After initial reports in 2021 revealed that crime had spiked, Beshear defended his move to release criminals early and called the multiple releases “reasonable decisions,” according to WLKY CBS. Beshear called for the 2021 report to be re-examined, and claimed that a more in-depth analysis would vindicate his choice to commute so many sentences.
Beshear did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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