Call to Order and Roll Call
The7th meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary was held on Friday, December 16, 2011, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative John Tilley, Chair, called the meeting to order, the secretary called the roll, and a quorum was present.
Members:Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; Senators Perry B. Clark, Jerry P. Rhoads, Dan "Malano" Seum, Katie Kratz Stine, Robin L. Webb, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Jesse Crenshaw, Joseph M. Fischer, Kelly Flood, Sara Beth Gregory, Jeff Hoover, Joni L. Jenkins, Thomas Kerr, Mary Lou Marzian, Michael J. Nemes, Darryl T. Owens, Tom Riner, and Steven Rudy.
Guests: Tanya Fogle, Bluegrass Area Development District; and Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Vera Institute of Justice.
Vera Institute of Justice
Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice, presented an update on Vera's role assisting Kentucky with the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Phase II. She described Vera's role in Kentucky as a liaison between the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the state in facilitating the state's application for up to $400,000 to implement the justice reinvestment portions of HB 463 in cooperation with the Administrative Office of the Courts, Department of Corrections, and other state agencies. Ms. Eisen indicated a JRI working group has been established involving state and local agencies and the courts to set goals and identify areas of need for the pass-through funding application. Identified areas of need include assistance to the Department of Corrections in designing a system to estimate savings, assistance in implementing evidence-based practices, working with judges to understand new policies and training Circuit Clerks and pretrial officers. Several areas of need were identified which were beyond the initial funding goals, including technology issues at the Administrative Office of the Courts, and implementation of the sentencing information system for victims and others by the Department of Corrections to be implemented by July 2013. Ms. Eisen indicated Vera staff has created data monitoring spreadsheets to assist the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Department of Corrections in their data collection and monitoring efforts.
Results First Pilot Project
Mike Clark, LRC Economist, reported on the results of the pilot project for using the Results First program to evaluate criminal justice and other needs based on a model from the Washington Public Policy Institute. Mr. Clark said from a research perspective, Results First might not be adequate as the sole determinant for identifying and selecting corrections programs which have the most potential to provide net benefits. The Washington model focuses on recidivism and potential savings from less crime in the future. Some limitations include the amount of Kentucky data available, the short duration of most recidivism studies, which is three years to five years, and does not provide a long-term evaluation for treated versus untreated offenders. Mr. Clark indicated it would be difficult to justify the assumptions for long term effects based on short-term data for crimes avoided. Data on correctional costs, for instance is easier to estimate, but one must differentiate between fixed costs such as debt service, and variable costs such as lowering the cost of incarceration medical care and food service costs with less crime. There is also a problem of effect size related to the type of crime which might be prevented. For example, a Washington state study found that a drug treatment program reduced the two year felony recidivism from 29 percent to 20.2 percent. However, the difference resulted from a reduction in drug felonies. There was no statistically significant reduction in nondrug felonies. Another factor was fixed costs in providing services such as criminal defense services by the Department for Public Advocacy which might reduce the caseload of public defenders, but not the costs of providing the defense, because the present caseload per public defender is so high. As far as a conclusion from the pilot study, the economist recommended caution in relying on the data, particularly in the area of marginal costs associated with avoided crimes. Further study of the Kentucky offender population is needed so that Kentucky specific results can be obtained and evaluated.
Discussion of Task Force on Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act Report
Chairman Tilley recognized the continuing efforts of the stakeholders in making suggestions to the task force and the committee during the past interim which greatly assisted both the task force and the committee in arriving at its report and recommendations.
Chairman Tilley told the committee how the recommendations in the draft task force report were developed and pointed out the initial revision of the penal code took four years, and that one interim period was insufficient for a full review and restructuring of the penal code. The report reflects general areas for further study during the next interim by a reconstituted task force. Chairman Tilley indicated the first part of the report details what has been done to implement the provisions of 2011 HB 463 and the items of need identified during the committee meetings.
Specific recommendations include: 1. Reform the Penal Code; 2. Reclassify offenses and modify the sentencing structure to include new classes of felonies, the possibility of a new high misdemeanor offense, and adjustments to parole eligibility for certain offenses; 3. Modify trafficking in controlled substances in the second and third degrees and the aggregation of drug transactions to achieve better results; 4. Create a generally applicable synthetic drug statute which Chairman Tilley indicated could anticipate further modifications to existing drugs; 5. Clarify the deferred prosecution provision; 6. Investigate methods for combating methamphetamine. 7. Investigate better methods for combating pill mills. Chairman Tilley indicated that there are already several prefiled bills on the matter which will be considered during the 2012 Regular Session; 8. Clarify various provisions in the drug court statute as recommended by the Court of Justice; 8. Clarify misdemeanor citation and arrest powers; 9. Clarify application of bail credits; 10. Clarify pretrial release provisions; 11. Reevaluate employment restrictions for felons; 12. Review challenges presented in misdemeanor expungement, particularly the one offense provision; 13. Create a uniform statewide gang database; 14. Ensure confidentiality for victims of sexual offenses; 15. Investigate better methods to combat human trafficking; 16. Ensure protection of child victims from Internet exploitation; 17. Ensure justice reinvestment; 18. Address issues relating to the electronic monitoring of offenders; 19. Create a task force to review juvenile justice matters; 20. Use the Results First cost-benefit model to allocate reinvestment funds to evidence-based programs; 21. Require detailed reporting on evidence-based programs; 22. Authorize expanded use of the Results First cost-benefit analysis.
Senator Webb suggested any reauthorized task force should have broader representation, particularly from members of the General Assembly, and the integrity of the committee process is important for proper input. Senator Webb also indicated that changes to the Drug Court program should be made by the Court of Justice and should include both entrance and discharge provisions. Chairman Tilley said previous legislatively based task force was unable to produce recommendations and that success was achieved by the utilization of a task force consisting of representatives from all three branches of government. Senator Webb suggested the committee needed input on juvenile law issues. Senator Jensen commented the three branches worked well together on producing both 2011 HB 463 and this report and complimented the stakeholders on their continued interest, comments, and support.
The report, as amended by the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act, was accepted by the committee for transmittal to the Legislative Research Commission. The meeting adjourned at 2:10 p.m.