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Gov. Beshear to close state prison in Frankfort , convert facility to state police training academy

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 9, 2011) – Governor Steve Beshear today announced that a now unneeded state prison facility in Franklin County will close by the end of the current fiscal year. The complex will be converted into a desperately needed modern training facility for the Kentucky State Police (KSP).

The Department of Corrections will immediately begin the process of moving inmates from the 205-bed Frankfort Career Development Center, a minimum security state-run prison, to county jails, halfway houses and community supervision, Gov. Beshear said.  All inmates will be relocated by June 30, 2010.

“Thanks to strategic efforts and initiatives over the past 3 1/2 years, we’ve reversed Kentucky ’s inmate population trend, going from first in the nation in the rate of our felon population growth, to a sustained drop in population of more than 1,600 inmates,” Gov. Beshear said.  “Added to that, the recent passage of HB 463 promises a continued downward impact on the inmate population.  The success of these initiatives provides, for the first time, the opportunity to close a minimum security facility, and taking a 24-7 penal facility off line.”

“This action will not impact the sentence of any inmate. We are not releasing inmates into society early or shortening their sentences,” Gov. Beshear added.  “These are low custody level inmates who are at the end of their stay in the prison system -- a population typically housed in county jails or halfway houses. They will be transitioned to other facilities.”

The department will be able to offer all correctional officers and staff members positions at nearby facilities. The DOC estimates annual savings of about $575,000 once the prison is closed.

The facility won’t sit idle, however.  Once all inmates have been moved, KSP will take possession of the property and begin utilizing it as a training academy, a project that has been at the top of the Justice Cabinet’s capital budget request list for years. 

A new police academy was projected to cost nearly $34.7 million in today’s dollars. The KSP will incur increased operational costs which are still being evaluated, however, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet is expected to realize net operating savings resulting from the repurposing of the facility.

“This is a perfect partnership between agencies within our cabinet,” Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown said.  “As we decrease the need for minimum custody beds, and reduce the need for this property by one of our agencies, we’ve been able to turn that into an opportunity for another agency and fulfill a need that would otherwise not be met.”

“FCDC has served the Department of Corrections admirably and carried out its mission in exemplary fashion,” said LaDonna Thompson. “The decision to close this minimum-security facility was based on cost factors and the reduced need for non-secure beds. The timing of its closure, coupled with tremendous benefit to the Commonwealth of its conversion to the new State Police academy, could not have been accomplished elsewhere.”

The 45,000 square-foot complex has the ability to sleep and feed 200 people, and includes ample classroom space, laundry facilities, meeting rooms and exercise areas.  In contrast, the current state police academy lacks adequate space for classroom work and physical training, and isn’t equipped with the technology capabilities needed to train a modern police force, according to state police Commissioner Rodney Brewer.

“This facility will have an immediate impact on all personnel as the Kentucky State Police Training Academy ,” KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said.  “Because of the vision and innovativeness of Governor Beshear and Secretary Brown, the agency will soon have a complete training campus capable of meeting all of our needs for decades to come.”

The plan will centralize much of the state police training. Currently, the department outsources several training requirements that will soon be able to be incorporated into the facility.  In addition, the complex provides space for housing troopers for special events, such as the WEG games and other large scale, multi-day happenings, and would provide living quarters when troopers return for mandatory in-service training.  Existing facilities have had a negative impact on recruiting state troopers.

The new academy will also accommodate other departmental training functions, such as those required for youth workers for the Department of Juvenile Justice, who now must stay in hotels across the state during training, a considerable expense.

The property has ample space to accommodate future development, as funds become available, resulting in a state-of-the-art training facility with low budgetary impact.

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