Call to Order and Roll Call
The5th meeting of the Task Force on the Unified Juvenile Code was held on Wednesday, September 25, 2013, at 1:00 PM, in Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Whitney Westerfield, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Whitney Westerfield, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; Harry L. Berry, Hasan Davis, Glenda Edwards, Steven Gold, Teresa James, Lisa P. Jones, Bo Matthews, Mary C. Noble, Pamela Priddy, and John Sivley.
Guest Legislator: Rep. Jimmie Lee.
Guests: Erik Jarboe for LearNet; Margo Figg for the Department for Juvenile Justice; Chris Figg, student; Marty White and John Cooper for KASS; Gerald Dodge, Court Designated Worker; Joan Clark, Anderson County Jail; Terry Carl, Kenton County Jail; and Beth Porter for KYSEED/KICC.
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made by Commissioner Davis, seconded by Mr. Gold, and approved by voice vote to approve the minutes of the September 4, 2013 meeting.
Juvenile Corrections System Assessment, Data, and Research Presentation
The only item on the agenda was a presentation on the juvenile corrections system assessment, data, and research by Pamela Lachman, Senior Associate, Research, Public Safety Performance Project; Sonja Hallum, Senior Associate, State Policy, Public Safety Performance Project; Gabriella Priest, Associate, Crime and Justice Institute, Community Resources for Justice; and Ted Martinez, Senior Associate, Crime and Justice Institute, Community Resources for Justice. The presentation began with a report on the Kentucky Juvenile Justice System. Ms. Priest said that offense classifications for youth are status offenders, public offenders, and youthful offenders. Agencies serving juvenile justice involved youth are the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), the Department for Juvenile Justice (DJJ), and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
Established in 1996, DJJ is responsible for prevention programs for at risk youth, court intake, pretrial detention, residential placement and treatment services, probation, community aftercare, reintegration programs, and youth awaiting adult placement or court. DJJ employs about 1,300 people and has a budget for FY 13 of $102,666,600, with 55 percent spent on out of home facilities and 21 percent spent on community supervision and services. Secure facilities under DJJ include youth development centers, boot camps, and regional juvenile detention centers. Non-secure facilities include group homes, day treatment programs, and contracted private providers.
CHFS is home to most of the state’s human services and health care programs. The Cabinet serves juvenile justice involved youth in the community primarily through the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, and the Department for Community Based Services.
AOC is the operations arm for the state court system. Within AOC, the Department of Family and Juvenile Services operates the Juvenile Services branch, with 157 staff, and a budget of $8,305,300. Ms. Priest discussed maps that showed a breakdown of the status and public offender systems from offenses to court or disposition.
Ms. Hallum discussed what works in juvenile justice research. She identified key principles in reducing juvenile offender recidivism and controlling costs. These include: using validated risk and needs assessment tools; focusing resources on juvenile offenders who are a higher risk to reoffend; matching placement, supervision, and treatment to juvenile offenders’ risks and needs; blending treatment and monitoring; and implementing evidence-based programs. Ms. Hallum also discussed the cost-benefit analysis of evidence-based programs and showed that there are many different programs that can address a variety of issues.
In response to a statement by Representative Tilley, Ms. Hallum agreed that it is important to look at return on investment with all evidence-based programs.
Ms. Lachman discussed status offender referrals and placements. She said the majority of status offense cases are not filed in court, with only about 20 percent referred to court. Most status offenses related to school. In 2012, 58 percent of status petitions filed in court were school related. Different status charges are school related, with 82 percent of the 2012 school related complaints being for habitual truancy. The alternative to the complaint is the Truancy Diversion Program (TDP). Of the status referrals in 2012, 41 percent were screened out in the pre-complaint phase through TDP. According to 2012 data, 13 percent of youth in DJJ detention are status offenders. Public offenders make up the other 86 percent. Status contempt cases also stay longer in detention and many status offenders are committed and probated to the Cabinet.
In response to a question by Ms. Priddy, Ms. Lachman said 9,100 cases were screened out through the pre-complaint process through TDP. Of that 9,100, only 500 of those become complaints. The cases in counties without the TDP program do not get the option to go through that phase. They are either able to be screened out through the other CDW pre-complaint opportunities, or they become a complaint. Ms. Lachman said she can identify counties that do have the TDP program, and those that do not, and see if there are any meaningful differences in the number of cases that become status complaints of the referrals.
Senator Westerfield and Ms. Dudgeon noted that in regard to the truancy issue with tardies, it would be helpful to see how Kentucky stacks up against other states with their definition of truancy and tardy.
In response to a question by Ms. Edwards, Ms. Lachman said she was not able to prepare data the same way on children that go to detention on contempt per county, but she will work on that. She was able to use detention data to show how many cases come into detention either pre-adjudication or post-adjudication were contempt, and it was a vast majority of status offenses.
Ms. Hallum discussed complaints, dispositions to DJJ, placement and supervision, and discharge relative to public offenders. She reported that there has been a similar decline in public complaints and the out of home population. A quarter of public complaints are occurring at schools. Of school-related public complaints, 78 percent are for misdemeanors, while 71 percent of non-school related charges are misdemeanors. The majority of felony charges are Class D, and the majority of misdemeanor charges are Class A. She also noted that because of a lack of clarity in the statutes, prosecutors feel as though there is no discretion to decline to file charges. In regard to dispositions to DJJ, Ms. Hallum said that that Youth Level of Service (YLS) is available at disposition and used at the discretion of judges, but not validated on Kentucky juvenile recidivism outcomes. Class A misdemeanors and Class D felonies are the most common offenses disposed to DJJ. Theft and assault are the most common Class D felonies and Class A misdemeanors.
In response to a question by Commissioner Davis, Ms. Lachman said the data regarding public complaints at schools is based on initial charges. She said the Project tried to look at how many of the charges were amended down in the court process, but was unable due to inconsistencies in coding.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Hallum explained the lack of clarity in KRS 635.010, section 1A. There is reference to the authority of the county attorney to elect not to file, but it is not clear if that discretion is granted only if there is not reasonable cause to file. This refers to KRS.
In response to a question by Ms. Priddy, Commissioner James said 859 kids that are committed to the Cabinet are status offenders. Many come in as status offenses, but may also involve public offenses or DNA cases. These are the children most likely to bounce back and forth between the DJJ and the Cabinet. Statutorily, the Cabinet does the probated status offenders.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Lachman said the controlled substance share of the felonies is in the top ten, but not in the top five. She said that the current data does not allow a determination as to what substances are more prevalent than others.
Ms. Lachman discussed placement options. She said the majority of juveniles are placed out of home, with misdemeanants and violators being the majority in each placement. A large proportion of lower level offenders are placed out of home. The length of time juveniles are being held in out of home facilities has increased over time. Misdemeanor and felony offenders spend a similar amount of time out of home. There is little difference in the prior criminal history of offenders regardless of placements.
Ms. Hallum discussed supervision and discharge. She reported that probation violations are the most common disposition prior to out of home placement. Most juveniles who are placed out to home for violations have fewer than two prior violations. There is not a system of graduated sanctions for violations. There are no clear timelines for juveniles to be discharged from supervision. Juveniles are committed to DJJ indefinitely until they are 18 years of age, increasing the likelihood they will have a violation at some point and be placed out of home.
Mr. Martinez discussed services in the community. He said that community mental health centers play an integral role in Kentucky, with 14 regional centers serving 120 counties. There are also substance abuse treatment services in the community. A total of 261 youth were served with adolescent outpatient substance abuse treatment in FY 13. He noted that there are insufficient aftercare services available for DJJ committed youth released to the community.
In response to a question by Representative Tilley, Commissioner James announced that yesterday was a pivotal day in Kentucky. There are several things on the horizon in Kentucky that will affect some of the issues and challenges of accessing treatment. The Health Benefit Exchange will go live on October 1, 2013. Eligibility for Medicaid benefits will change January 1, 2014, which will cover people up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. With both of these items, over 600,000 uninsured Kentuckians will be eligible for health care coverage either through Medicaid or through the purchasing of insurance coverage through the exchange. Also, as of January 1, 2014, every plan in Kentucky will have a substance abuse treatment benefit attached to it. She added that in the next week, the Department for Medicaid Services plans to file amendments to the Medicaid State Plan in Kentucky, subject to CMS approval, which will include expanding the behavioral health and substance abuse treatment services available in the Medicaid State Plan to kids and adults receiving Medicaid benefits.
In response to a question by Ms. Edwards, Ms. Lachman said she looked at the length of time in community placement or out of home placement, and the total length of the case that these violators had and discovered that there is a very stark difference between probation violators that remain in the community and those who end up in longer out of home placement or detention. For youth who stay in the community, the average length of their case is lower than the average of 15 months. Youth placed out of home have dramatically longer stays, closer to 21 months on average. Ms. Hallum added that it is important to consider the average age of the offender coming into the system. The average age at the point of disposition is 15.5 years. When you add the average length of stay onto the age they are starting with, they are close to aging out of the system.
In response to a question by Ms. Edwards, Ms. Hallum said she did not address youthful offenders because the focus is more on juvenile offenses that are in the system, as opposed to those moving into the adult system.
In response to a question by Mr. Gold, Ms. Hallum said that the basic concept of providing more information to the judicial officer to be able to guide decision making. The concept is that if the risk and needs assessment is complete, and it can be provided to the judicial officer, it will allow them to take into account the risk level to public safety as well as the needs of the offender to better match the intervention that the court is supposing.
In response to a question by Mr. Gold, Ms. Hallum said there is not a good way to capture, more than anecdotally, information on the length of time between the offense and disposition, or the time it takes at each step of the process.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Lachman said Jefferson County numbers are included for youth disposed to DJJ. For youth who are in Jefferson County, but not disposed to DJJ, they are not. Commissioner Davis added the detention is separate, but all other youth are included from Jefferson County in the data. Representative Tilley added that it may be helpful to pull the data from urban areas from the equation to look at rural areas on their own.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:05 p.m.