The1st meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice, Corrections, and Judiciary of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on<Day> Thursday, July 31, 2003, at 11:15 AM, in Room 111 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Jesse Crenshaw, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Melinda Wheeler, Deputy Director, Administrative Office of the Courts; Garland VanHook, Facilities Manager, Administrative Office of the Courts; Doug Teague, Budget and Policy Manager, Administrative Office of the Courts; Commissioner Vertner Taylor, Department of Corrections; John Lile, Deputy Secretary, Justice Cabinet; Mary Arms, Budget Officer, Department of Corrections; Ken Dressman, Deputy Commissioner, Support Services; and Kimberly Link.
LRC Staff: Steve Mason, Sharon Cantrell, Joe Lancaster, and Bettina Abshire.
Chairman Crenshaw began the meeting by announcing the subcommittee had appropriation increases to submit to the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue and that there was not a quorum to vote out of committee.
Mr. VanHook gave a brief presentation of the budget as it relates to AOC Facilities.
Senator Jones asked when construction is anticipated to begin on the Johnson County project. Mr. VanHook replied approximately 90 days. Senator Jones inquired about the proposed projects in Robertson, Gallatin and Pendleton counties. Mr. VanHook explained that there would be an addition in each of those counties. Senator Jones asked if the AOC plans to ask the Legislature in January to fund the 20 projects listed on page eight of the handout. Ms. Wheeler replied that the final plan has not yet been authorized.
Representative Yonts asked if the new courthouses would be unfurnished due to lack of funds. Mr. VanHook replied that funds are included in the new projects to furnish and equip them. Mr. Teague added that some of the reductions in the operating budget occurred in Court Operations and reductions in furniture and equipment in Local Facilities. Mr. VanHook explained that those reductions were focused in existing facilities and were separate from the new projects.
Representative Yonts asked if priorities had been set for the locations of new judges for family courts. Ms. Wheeler replied that they do not have the Chief Justice’s recommendations at this time.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if actual occupancy data for the completed new court facilities could be provided to staff. Ms. Cantrell explained that the data required is projected occupancy dates which were budgeted for, versus actual occupancy dates.
Chairman Crenshaw expressed concern regarding privacy for attorneys and their clients. Mr. VanHook explained that there are several options to be considered, and will meet with the Chairman to discuss those options.
Mr. Lile publicly commended Commissioner Taylor and his staff for providing a compliant and safe environment in a system that is at maximum capacity.
Commissioner Taylor gave a brief overview and mid-term status report on budget related issues for the Department of Corrections.
Representative Yonts inquired about federal grants for the backlog of DNA testing. Mr. Lile replied that he would check into it and get back to the subcommittee. Representative Yonts asked if the leaking roof at Eddyville is being repaired. Commissioner Taylor replied that a work order has been turned in for those repairs. Representative Yonts inquired about the recidivism rate among parolees. Commissioner Taylor replied that there have been 554 returned parole violators whose time had been affected by legislation effective in April. Of those 554 returned, 73 had enough parole time to be immediately released, resulting in approximately $90,000 savings in incarceration costs.
Senator Jones asked if the trend of inmates coming in to the system is increasing or if there has been a reduction in the number. Mr. Dressman replied that there has been a steady rate of increase, and the prediction through fiscal year 2010 is an average rate of growth of 3.52% per year. Senator Jones asked if prison beds and staff would need to be increased as well as adding more probation and parole officers. Commissioner Taylor replied in the affirmative. Senator Jones asked if it would be important to add a comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment program at some point in order to keep people from coming in to the system. Commissioner Taylor replied that community-based treatment as well as treatment and education inside the institution will be necessary. Mr. Lile mentioned that an option to explore would be a type of residential treatment center in the communities for use as a controlled environment for drug treatment for inmates released from the prisons.
Representative Yonts asked if there is still a 25% turnover in guards and if it is because of low pay and benefits or perhaps stress related, or both. Commissioner Taylor replied that all those items are factors.
Representative Simpson asked if there is a cost savings by utilizing halfway houses. Mr. Lile replied that 17 halfway houses are being operated throughout the state, housing 550 inmates, with an average of $29.73 per day per inmate. Representative Simpson asked about the typical cost per inmate if there were no halfway houses. Mr. Lile replied that it is approximately $40. Representative Simpson asked if there is a drug treatment regimen in the halfway houses. Commissioner Taylor replied that some of them do provide treatment but that it is not a requirement. Mr. Lile added that the inmates in the halfway houses are “community custody” inmates in the final phase of the incarceration system, and are in the halfway houses only a short time as a final transition before re-entering the population. Representative Simpson asked if there has been a shift in the type of inmate coming in to the system. Commissioner Taylor replied that 80% of the crimes are substance related.
Representative Denham stated that moving juveniles from county jails to regional centers is placing a financial burden on the county jails as well as on sheriffs departments for transportation services, and inquired if that had come about as a cost cutting measure. Mr. Lile explained that the issue falls under the Juvenile Justice Department and is part of a statewide plan of trying to move away from placing juveniles in county jails. Rather placing them in a juvenile detention center only an hour or so drive away, which provides educational opportunities as well as housing. He added that the Department of Local Government reimburses the county sheriffs departments for transportation services.
Chairman Crenshaw asked for an explanation of the requested increase in federal funds for Corrections Management, Adult Institutions, Community Services and Local Facilities. Ms. Arms gave a brief overview of the request.
Chairman Crenshaw asked members if it is the sentiment of the subcommittee that it be reported to the full Appropriations and Revenue Committee that the requested appropriations increases be approved. The subcommittee members present at this meeting agreed that they be reported as such.
There being no further business before the subcommittee, the meeting was adjourned.