Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary was held on Wednesday, January 19, 2011, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative John Tilley, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Ray S. Jones II, Jerry P. Rhoads, Dan "Malano" Seum, Katie Kratz Stine, Robin L. Webb, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Johnny Bell, Jesse Crenshaw, Joseph M. Fischer, Sara Beth Gregory, Joni L. Jenkins, Thomas Kerr, Stan Lee, Mary Lou Marzian, Mike Nemes, Darryl T. Owens, Tom Riner, Steven Rudy, and Brent Yonts.
Guests: Charles Zoeller.
Roll Call and Minutes
Representative Tilley called the meeting to order, the roll was called, a quorum was present, and the minutes of the November meeting were approved.
Discussion of Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act Policy Task Force Recommendations
Copies of a revised version of the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act Policy Recommendations, dated January 19, 2011, were distributed with a revised copy of the Task Force bill draft.
Representative Tilley introduced the first speaker, Texas Representative Jerry Madden, who described a situation where Texas faced a choice of building more prisons or making improvements in its sentencing structure. Working with the PEW Center on the States Public Safety Performance Project, Texas revised its criminal penalty structure, emphasized alternatives to incarceration, and over the years has reduced recidivism, reduced crime, halted construction of new prisons, and closed prisons. The result was that Texas avoided spending millions of dollars and was able to reinvest its savings in effective treatment and supervision programs, and other programs as well.
The next speakers were Jason Newman and Richard Jerome, Pew Center on the States, accompanied by Peter Ozanne and Kristy Danford, Crime and Justice Institute, and James Austin, JFA Institute. Mr. Newman and Mr. Jerome presented the results of a national research poll of public attitudes on crime and punishment that indicated that the public strongly favors programs that will reduce the commission of new crimes by offenders, and favors less prison time and more accountability for nonviolent offenders.
Mr. Newman and Mr. Jerome summarized the situation Kentucky faced with a growing prison population, an increased number of arrests, an increase in drug crimes, and the methods used to support the work of the Task Force by analyzing the state prison population and cost drivers, engaging criminal justice stakeholders including victims groups, law enforcement, prosecution, defense, jailers, treatment providers, judges, and others involved in the criminal justice system. This was followed by developing tailored policy options based on Kentucky’s needs and building consensus and support for legislative and executive agency support efforts.
Specific prison population drivers in Kentucky included an increase in arrests and court cases, the high use of prison rather than probation by the courts, increases in the number of technical probation and parole violators who were returned to prison, and a high number of non-violent offenders, particularly drug offenders and offenders with drug problems. The report stressed that changes were not being sought to shorten the sentences of violent offenders and sex offenders but that the recommendations did include a period of post-incarceration supervision for these offenders who were not likely to be released on parole.
Discussion then turned to the policy recommendations which had been adopted by the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act. These recommendations included strengthening probation and parole by using a validated risk/needs assessment, providing an emphasis on supervision of high and medium risk offenders with lesser supervision low risk offenders, use of intermediate sanctions which can be immediately employed administratively, placing limits on long parole deferments, providing mandatory prerelease supervision for persons scheduled for release, and the use of evidence-based programs for offenders.
Sentencing reforms focused on changes to the controlled substances act to reduce sentences for possession of drugs, together with presumptive probation with treatment programs where necessary. Setting quantities by weight and dosage units for possession and trafficking offenses, and decreasing the size of the drug free school zone from 1,000 yards to 1,000 feet. Medical parole was recommended for terminally ill felony offenders upon recommendation of the medical director of the Department of Corrections. Success in corrections was defined as recidivism reduction and reduction in overall crime.
Other correctional recommendations included using a validated risk/needs assessment (which the Department of Corrections has already implemented), evidence-based programs which have been shown to have positive results, and regular examination of institutional and community programs to ensure that they are delivering positive results. Other recommendations involved revising the corrections impact statement so that legislators would better understand the impact of their bills along with a requirement to identify where funds for lengthened sentences would be obtained. Recommendations included the increased use of Global Positioning System monitoring at all stages in the criminal justice system from pretrial release, through probation, and parole, and the use of a "certificate of need" system for the construction or expansion of local jails.
The Interim Joint Committee accepted the report and recommended submitting the report to the Legislative Research Commission. The co-chairs explained to the members that the accompanying bill draft was a preliminary draft that would be revised by the co-chairs and submitted to the General Assembly following the resumption of the Regular Session in February. The meeting adjourned at 2:45 p.m.