The1st meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on<Day> Tuesday, October 18, 2005, at 10:00 A.M., in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Jesse Crenshaw, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: Melinda Wheeler, Director, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC); Doug Teague, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Connie Payne, Administrative Office of the Courts, (AOC), Cleve Gambill, Deputy Secretary, Justice Cabinet; Teresa Barton, Executive Director, Office of Drug Control Policy; Ernie Lewis, Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy; and, Commissioner John Rees, Department of Corrections, Greg Rush, Justice Cabinet, Shannon Means, Public Advocacy.
LRC Staff: Karen Hilborn Crabtree, Mike Mullins, Spring Emerson, and Jenifer Harrison.
Representative Crenshaw welcomed members and agencies to the meeting. He then welcomed new staff members Mike Mullins and Jenifer Harrison.
Chairman Crenshaw announced the LRC Hurricane Relief Fund Project and its acceptance of donations which will be used for disaster relief services for those afflicted by the recent hurricanes in the Gulf states.
Chairman Crenshaw announced that the next meeting will be Wednesday, November 2, 2005 at 10:00 A.M. in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex.
Melinda Wheeler from the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) introduced Doug Teague, Budget Director for AOC, and Connie Payne, General Manager of Drug Courts in Kentucky.
Chairman Crenshaw inquired about items that the members need to know about in the weeks to come. Ms. Wheeler replied that the Drug Court Program has been very effective and should be made a statewide program. Chairman Crenshaw requested a list of the counties that have drug courts. Ms. Wheeler will provide the information at a later date.
Chairman Crenshaw wanted clarity on whether the drug courts are uniform and consistent in each county. Ms. Wheeler replied that the goal is to unify the drug courts across the state so they will all be operating the same way.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if they are receiving federal funding for the drug courts. Mr. Teague responded that the Drug Courts received an additional $2 million, a portion of which came from the Coal-Producing Counties Fund, and is designated for use in coal-producing counties. Ms. Wheeler added that they currently have Federal Funds in ten sites and Restricted Funds in ten sites.
Rep. Webb requested information regarding the percentage of federal funding which we are relying on now, how to reduce it, the cost estimate of the overall proposal, and what the proposals over the next two to four years will do. Ms. Wheeler responded that the information will be provided at a later date.
Rep. Yonts expressed concern regarding the funding stream from Coal Severance counties and inquired about the funding of the proposed statewide Drug Court Program. Ms. Wheeler replied that it will be part of the AOC budget rather than relying on Coal Severance Funds.
Rep. Moberly asked for a brief description of what drug courts do differently than other courts. Ms. Payne responded that drug court judges have the power to enforce treatment. Drug court combines treatment, frequent and random drug testing, and weekly judicial review. Rep. Moberly asked if there are enough treatment services available to meet the needs of the proposed drug courts. Ms. Payne replied that with the Drug Court Program's current budget, money is provided to the local Comprehensive Care Units, who have bought services or hired new staff to provide the drug courts with quality services.
Rep. Moberly asked how long have we had drug courts. Ms. Payne answered AOC created the drug court department in 1996. Rep. Moberly asked what accountability or evidence is there to indicate that we are getting satisfactory results from the money being spent. Ms. Payne responded they have had two independent evaluations done by the nationally recognized University of Kentucky Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, one in 2001 and another in 2004. Rep. Moberly asked that those reports be made available to staff.
Rep. Webb asked who pays for the cost of drug testing. Ms. Payne replied the drug court pays for all the testing that it does. If a judge orders testing for a non-drug court participant then the participant is responsible for the cost of the tests.
Rep. Lindsey inquired about the use of a particular company for drug testing. Ms. Payne responded that the drug testing vendor they use is top-of-the-line and the AOC has a statewide contract to get the lowest rate possible, while providing consistency throughout the state.
Chairman Crenshaw asked what Judge Lambert's expansion plan includes and the cost. Ms. Wheeler responded they are working on possibly combining some districts for family courts. She added that start-up costs for family court with a judge plus four staff is $477,000, and a circuit judgeship is $347,000.
Rep. Lindsey asked about the annual cost for a family court and a circuit court, not including start-up costs. Ms. Wheeler responded $417,700 per year for family court and $292,500 per year for regular court. Mr. Teague commented that, due to space issues, the costs vary depending on how many counties are in the district.
Chairman Crenshaw asked what is planned for courthouse projects and the anticipated cost. Ms. Wheeler responded that they will go with the Capital Plan approved by the last session of the General Assembly. Mr. Teague added that the Capital Plan includes 16 projects not authorized in 2005, which totals $252 million, with the use allowance being approximately $22.5 million, furniture and equipment approximately $15 million, and annual operating and maintenance approximately $5 million.
Rep. Yonts requested a list of the new courthouses. Mr. Teague provided the information in a handout.
Rep. Webb inquired about a domestic action form that has to be typed and asked if that could be updated to an on-line format. Ms. Jacquie Heyman, Deputy Director, AOC, replied that the form being referred to is a VS-300, which is originated at the Department of Vital Statistics, rather than the AOC.
Chairman Crenshaw then introduced Deputy Secretary Cleve Gambill Justice Cabinet, and Executive Director Teresa Barton, Office of Drug Control Policy. Secretary Gamble introduced Commissioner John Rees, Department of Corrections, and Public Advocate Ernie Lewis.
Ms. Barton gave a brief presentation relating to the Office of Drug Control Policy. Chairman Crenshaw asked if any funding is being provided to Fayette County. Ms. Barton responded that approximately $30,000 was allocated from different fund sources. Chairman Crenshaw expressed concern for funding problems at the Hope Center.
Rep. Webb inquired about how programs are selected, and expressed concern that there is not a program in Southeastern or Eastern Kentucky. Ms. Barton replied that if the jailer did not send in the application, then they weren't considered.
Rep. Webb asked if Operation UNITE is enhancing or co-mingling services in the fifth district. Ms. Barton replied that services are being enhanced. Rep. Webb asked if the Clay and Pike county facilities are contract facilities, what are the costs, and who are they accountable to. Ms. Barton responded that it is a joint project with Federal Funds, and both are contract facilities. Rep. Webb requested a periodic update on how programs are being managed.
Rep. Webb asked what is being done in the schools. Ms. Barton responded that there is a training program called "Too Good For Drugs" that is a science-based program, with six to eight consultants working in schools directly with the students. Rep. Webb asked if those individuals are contract staff. Ms. Barton responded in the affirmative. Rep. Webb wanted to know who oversees them. Ms. Barton responded that the Office of Drug Control Policy is partnering with the Kentucky School Board Association and the Kentucky Center for School Safety. Rep. Webb requested that more information be provided.
Rep. Yonts asked if there is a plan to offer in-jail drug treatment in Muhlenburg County. Ms. Barton responded that they will be sending out information to the counties in the next month or so, and would encourage the jailer to apply. Rep. Yonts requested a courtesy copy when it is sent out.
Chairman Crenshaw asked for an explanation of the reason for problems with the Justice Cabinet's Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), with access to justice. Deputy Secretary Gambill introduced Mr. Greg Rush, Budget Officer for the Justice Cabinet. Mr. Rush stated that the delays are due to the structure of the budget language.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if there has been any need to contract for outside legal services since the consolidation of the Cabinet's Legal Services Department to the Office of Legal Services. Mr. Rush replied there had been some, adding that the number of contracts has dropped dramatically. Chairman Crenshaw asked that information be provided which includes all outside contracts, what they were for, and the amount spent on them.
Chairman Crenshaw inquired about the status of the Criminal Justice Council, how much is being spent, and what is being accomplished. Mr. Rush explained that the Council has met once this year and has another meeting scheduled for this Friday. He went on to say that $384,000 was transferred from the Department of Criminal Justice Training, and a fund transfer was included by the General Assembly to move $184,000 to the credit of the General Fund, which left the Council with approximately $150,000 remaining. He added that most of that goes toward salaries for staff support to the Council. Chairman Crenshaw asked what the Council is working on. Mr. Rush responded that the first agenda dealt with a number of legislative issues, a report on the Kentucky Coalition Against Sexual Assault (K-CASA), and a number of general issues related to Criminal Justice and initiatives as a Cabinet going forward. He went on to say that the Council in its reconstituted form is still determining its agenda for the next meeting. Chairman Crenshaw asked how many staff members the Council has now since the revision. Mr. Rush replied there are two.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if any changes have been made in the Parole Board in the past year to help with caseloads. Mr. Rush replied that the biggest thing that Director O'Keefe has put in at this point is the federal grant for risk assessments, which in the last session General Fund replacement funds were provided for the grant, which freed up Board members to focus more on cases. Chairman Crenshaw asked how much the savings has been. Mr. Rush responded that there has been more focus on time as money, and no analysis has yet been done on travel savings.
Chairman Crenshaw asked what the Office of Investigations has been involved in other than the investigations being performed for Juvenile Justice. Mr. Gambill responded that they have handled about 700 complaints, with a staff of six, including five investigators and one staffer. He went on to say that they have open investigations in about 300 cases, and all but ten of those have been with the Department of Juvenile Justice, there have been four or five with Kentucky Vehicular Enforcement, one with the Department of Corrections, and one with the Park System. He stated that he will provide more information at a later date.
Mr. Gambill then introduced Public Advocate Ernie Lewis to come forward and give a brief presentation, he spoke on outlining the growing case loads for public defenders, and the need for additional resources to address the growth.
Rep. Clark asked if the Federal guidelines precluded them from spreading funding equitably across the entire criminal justice system where they are needed. Mr. Lewis responded that each year Byrne Grant funding is applied for but in recent years indigent defense has not been included. Rep. Clark asked if there is a case where federal funding disallowed that. Mr. Lewis responded that caseloads are increasing and no additional money is available to hire clerks. Rep. Webb commented that there should be a statewide equitable distribution of funds.
Rep. Lindsey asked who has control over the standards and determines who is indigent and who is not. Mr. Lewis responded that it is squarely the responsibility of the judge, then went on to explain how the process should work.
Rep. Lindsey wanted to know how many cases go to trial. Mr. Lewis responded that approximately two to four percent of the cases go to trial.
Rep. Butler inquired about the number of cases per attorney and what was the cause of the jump between 2002 and 2003. Mr. Lewis replied that the reason is twofold - one being the opening of full-time offices with judges more willing to appoint public defenders, and two, the increase in drug cases. Rep. Butler inquired how much time do the attorneys have face to face with the client. Mr. Lewis replied it is increasingly less and less. Rep. Webb commented that most of public defender's time is spent in court or traveling, and the availability of representation is declining.
Rep. Moberly asked what do private attorneys get paid. Mr. Lewis responded that they are paid the market rate, which is an average of approximately $400. Rep. Moberly asked if that is a maximum. Mr. Lewis replied that it is an average, not a maximum, adding that some cases going to trial would cost approximately $2,500. Rep. Moberly asked who makes the decision regarding how private attorneys are compensated. Mr. Lewis responded that the directing attorney is charged with the responsibility of putting together a conflict plan, to allow for payment of the private attorneys.
Rep. Moberly commented that there is a need to get better accountability for indigency from the AOC. Rep. Webb suggested that the representatives of the Circuit Judges Association and District Judges Association be present and prepared to testify to that.
Chairman Crenshaw then introduced Commissioner John Rees, who gave a brief presentation in relation to the Department of Corrections.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if studies had been done to determine if too many people are being placed on probation unnecessarily. Commissioner Rees replied that in rural areas judges keep people on probation supervision considerably longer than they do in the urban areas. He went on to say that this results in what is called the administrative caseloads, and indicates a need for an administrative position to the administrative cases.
Chairman Crenshaw inquired about the 40-hour work week, and the response from officers. Commissioner Rees responded that it was superb, and went on to say that the only complaints were received from non-correctional officers for whom it was not implemented. Chairman Crenshaw asked how much more pay per year do the officers receive as a result. Commissioner Rees replied that it was a 6.67% increase, which equates to approximately $2,000 per year. Chairman Crenshaw asked about the starting salary for officers. Commissioner Rees responded that it is approximately $22,285.
Chairman Crenshaw asked if the female population increase is drug-related. Commissioner Rees responded that without question, it is drug-related.
Rep. Webb asked if probation and parole officers have laptops. Commissioner Rees responded that some do, and they are working on getting all officers laptops for increased efficiency.
Rep. Webb asked if the prison industries are still providing printing services. Commissioner Rees responded in the affirmative, adding that they are very pleased and excited about the expansion of prison industries printing. Rep. Webb asked if there had been a lapse in printing services. Commissioner Rees responded that it didn't cease, but slowed down for a time, and now there are two locations to assure continued operation.
Rep. Webb asked if there is an increase in healthcare costs due to methamphetamine usage. Commissioner Rees responded that the big cost is going to be in nephrology/dialysis due to methamphetamine attacking the kidneys. LaGrange has its own nephrology clinic and has between nine and twelve inmates on dialysis at any one time, and that number could triple as a result of methamphetamine use. He went on to say that the end of life issue is a substantive cost within the correctional environment. Rep. Webb then wanted to know if strides are being made to help terminal cases leave the facilities. Commissioner Rees then complimented Parole Board Chairman Custer and the current Executive Director of the Parole Board, Mr. O'Keefe, for touring the LaGrange facility. He went on to say that they were very impacted when touring the facility, helping to place cases in a nursing home or terminal home situation, which takes 90 - 120 days for approval. Rep. Webb then wanted to know how can this be simplified. Commissioner Rees responded that the medical parole situation is a slow bureaucratic process.
Rep. Webb asked about the anticipated cost savings in electronic consult. Commissioner Rees responded that there is a 40% to 60% reduction in outside trips for consultations.
Chairman Crenshaw announced the next meeting is to be held on November 2nd at 10:00 A.M. in room 129. He then thanked all the participants, members of the subcommittee, and staff.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 3:25 P.M.