Call to Order and Roll Call
The first meeting of the Budget Review Subcommittee on Justice and Judiciary of the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue was held on<Day> Thursday, October 27, 2011, at 10:30 AM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Jesse Crenshaw, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Guests: J. Michael Brown, Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet; Charles Geveden, Deputy Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet; Ladonna Thompson, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections; Rodney Brewer, Commissioner of the Kentucky State Police; and Ron Haws, Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Chairman Crenshaw welcomed committee members and guests.
Department of Corrections Budget Update
Ms. Ladonna Thompson, Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, gave an update on the Department’s budget status and expectations, and the plans the department has for the 2012-2014 biennial budget.
Commissioner Thompson and Representative Tilley provided an update on a few aspects of House Bill 463.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Thompson stated that $6 million was expected to be received for Northpoint Training Center from the insurance company, of which they have received $4.5 million. She stated that there should be another $1.5 million owed to them. In addition to the expected $6 million, the department has received $11 million for expenses incurred due to displacement of inmates.
In response to an inquiry from Chairman Crenshaw, Stephen Castle, Director of Administrative Services for the Department of Corrections, stated that the department is in negotiations with the insurance company because of items in dispute; therefore, it is difficult to say what the exact total receipts will be. Additional receipts are anticipated for housing of displaced inmates.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Mr. Castle stated that items in dispute included prescription drugs and officer meal reimbursements necessary during the displacement period. Disputed receipts are not for a large sum of money.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Thompson stated that the Department expects to receive some federal Medicaid funds for inmate care; however, the department is in the early stages of acquiring the information needed to be able to receive those funds.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Thompson stated that she does not have an estimate as to how much money will be received by the department from federal Medicaid dollars. Mr. Castle stated that he was doubtful that the estimate would be available before the completion of the 2012-2014 biennial budget.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Thompson stated that the difference between the $18 million loss from the Northpoint Training Center riots and the $6 million estimated to be received from the insurance company is being made up by the issuance of state bonds.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Thompson stated that the statute that requires an increase in pay for officers has not been implemented.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Thompson reassured Representative Yonts that the intent of House Bill 463 was to place inmates with substance abuse problems into mental health programs. He stated that he is receiving several letters per week from families of inmates and/or inmates that are paroled subject to completion of a substance abuse program. The letters state that some facilities have a six month to one year waiting list, or they do not have a program for the parolee to attend at all. Representative Yonts further stated that inmates who are getting into the program in parts of Eastern Kentucky are purposefully violating rules to be removed from it because the program director has problems with proper administration. Inmates are aware of this and refuse to go there. Representative Yonts asked what is being done to address these issues.
Commissioner Thompson stated that the department has researched and contacted several resources. It is working with these resources to enable inmates to have a home placement and travel from home placement to the substance abuse program. She further stated that the department is looking into using some community mental health facilities for inmates to complete a substance abuse program. The department is looking into facilities that were used in the past for substance abuse programs to see if they are available for use.
Commissioner Thompson stated there are a large number of inmates who need the substance abuse program in order to be paroled, and it is certainly a problem. The department is in the process of addressing the problem.
Representative Yonts asked the department to provide a list of all the inmates within each facility who are eligible for parole contingent upon the completion of a substance abuse program, and a list that shows how many months of waiting time before the inmate is able to complete a substance abuse program. Commissioner Thompson stated that the department would provide the list.
Department of Kentucky State Police Budget Update
Commissioner Brewer gave an update on the Department of Kentucky State Police’s budget status.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Brewer stated that there will be 60 new cadets graduating out of the most recent cadet training class.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Brewer stated that the next cadet training class will be an accelerated training class, and the targeted start date for that class is April 15, 2012.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Brewer stated that he believes the Trooper R Program, where retired officers can be hired back, has not materialized as expected because troopers are looking for the “catch.” Few adjustments have been made to the program. He believes another reason for lack of interest in the program is that troopers are working harder and longer due to a smaller workforce. Troopers are unable to work all the federal overtime they are allotted regarding DUI enforcement, speed enforcement, and marijuana suppression due to increased workload during normal working hours. Troopers want and need a day off for safety concerns. Commissioner Brewer said that part of the lack of response to the Trooper R program is due to troopers having worked long and hard hours over the past few years, and retired troopers are moving on to other opportunities.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Brewer stated that the department has not run the most recent salary comparison of Kentucky state troopers to state troopers in surrounding states. The previous year’s salary comparison ranked Kentucky in the middle. To his knowledge, very few officers who retire or resign go on to other police agencies. Commissioner Brewer stated that the few officers who move to other police agencies usually move to a local sheriff’s department. Many of the troopers that the department loses are employed by federal agencies.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Brewer stated that the new trooper vehicle will be a Chevy Caprice.
Department of Juvenile Justice Budget Update
Ron Haws, Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice, gave an update on the department’s budget status and the expectations.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Haws stated there are no immediate plans to reopen the Laurel Regional Juvenile Detention Center; however, there are plans to reopen the facility in 2014.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Haws stated that the buildings that housed the facilities in Lexington for the Bluegrass Treatment Center have been handed over to the Department of Finance since the facility’s closure. He further stated that there are no plans to reopen the Bluegrass Treatment Center.
In response to a question asked by Chairman Crenshaw, Commissioner Haws stated that the possibility of closing additional youth centers would depend on the 2012-2014 biennial budget. He indicated that if things continue as they are currently, there will not be a need for additional closings.
In response to a question asked by Representative Tilley, Commissioner Haws stated that implementation of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) program has begun in Henderson County. He stated that the internal structure and managing strategies are currently being set up. Commissioner Haws stated that he expects there will be approximately 365 juveniles who will not be placed in the juvenile justice system due to this program.
Representative Tilley stated that the program does not deal with children who commit crimes; rather, the program deals with children who are status offenders.
In response to a question asked by Representative Yonts, Commissioner Haws stated that approximately 20 percent of the juveniles were originally status offenders who were probated and are now assigned to the department because of probation violations.
In response to a question from Representative Yonts, Commissioner Haws stated that, if the status offender problem were solved by the JDAI program, and the department’s budgetary needs were lessened because of that impact, the department would reallocate resources to assist in the probated category or to help find alternatives to detention.
Chairman Crenshaw thanked all in attendance and adjourned the meeting at 11:37 a.m.