TheProgram Review and Investigations Committee met on Thursday, September 13, 2007, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Rick G. Nelson, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Ernie Harris, Co-Chair; Representative Rick G. Nelson, Co-Chair; Senators Charlie Borders, Brett Guthrie, Vernie McGaha, R. J. Palmer II, Joey Pendleton, and Dan Seum; Representatives Sheldon E. Baugh, Dwight D. Butler, Leslie Combs, Rick Rand, and Arnold Simpson.
Guests:† Laurie Dudgeon, Deputy Director; Connie Payne, General Manager, Drug Courts; and Patrick Yewell, General Manager, Department of Juvenile Services; Administrative Office of the Courts.
LRC Staff:† Greg Hager, Committee Staff Administrator; Rick Graycarek; Jim Guinn; Christopher Hall; Margaret Hurst; Colleen Kennedy; Van Knowles; Perry Papka; Rkia Rhib; Tara Rose; Cindy Upton; and Karen Wirth, Committee Assistant.
Minutes of the July 12, 2007 meeting were approved, without objection, upon motion made by Rep. Rand and seconded by Sen. Harris.
Committee members received a list of suggested study topics for consideration for the next meeting.
Greg Hager presented the report Drug Courts.
Mr. Hager stated the study covered three objectives: describe Kentuckyís drug courts, review evaluation and research studies on drug courts outside Kentucky, and review evaluation and research studies on drug courts in Kentucky.
He said that drug courts integrate substance abuse treatment with judicial supervision, use a nonadversarial approach, have frequent alcohol and drug testing, have incentives and sanctions, and have ongoing interaction between each participant and the judge.
He explained that some drug courts serve more than one county and that all courts are administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC). There are 41 adult drug courts (13 more planned), 2 family drug courts, and juvenile drug courts serving 19 counties. Most courts have been implemented in recent years.
He said that drug court is very rigorous. Each of three phases must be completed before proceeding to the next. Upon completion of the program, a client will enter an Aftercare program. The report recommended that AOC define the term graduate to include only those participants who successfully complete the three phases and Aftercare.
Mr. Hager defined the ways in which clients can leave drug court. They may be suspended temporarily, receive an administrative discharge, quit, or be terminated for noncompliance.
Mr. Hager explained that decisions about the clients are considered by the drug court team. All team members are volunteers and can include, among others, a judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and treatment provider. AOC provides training to the drug court teams. The report recommended that AOC should consider: adding training on team dynamics for members of drug court teams, initiating a mentoring program through which more experienced drug court judges advise less-experienced drug court judges, and initiating more outreach efforts in counties in which relevant staff have relatively low caseloads.
Mr. Hager told the committee that initially drug court funding came primarily from the federal government. Now more than half the funding is from state government. Most treatment is provided by community mental health centers, each of which has a memorandum of agreement with AOC. Payments to treatment providers increased from approximately 4 percent of total expenditures in FY 2003 to $1.5 million, 19 percent of expenditures, in FY 2006. The report recommended that AOC should consider: allocating more funding for treatment services; conducting periodic assessments of program needs, designing an action plan based on those needs, and integrating it into its budget requests; and negotiating fees for treatment services that more closely correspond to the costs of providing services.
Mr. Hager said the second objective covered by the study was national research and evaluations of drug courts. Issues in evaluating drug courts include the time period of the evaluations. Clients are easier to monitor during drug court than after drug court. Another issue in evaluating drug courts is establishing comparison groups. Random assignment would be ideal, but this is rarely feasible. Nonrandom assignment is more typical, but the groups are likely to be different.
Mr. Hager explained that there are over 1,000 drug courts in the United States and many drug courts have been evaluated. Most studies show that drug court participants are less likely to recidivate than those who did not participate. Analyses indicate that adult drug courts typically reduce recidivism by approximately 10 percent and juvenile courts reduce recidivism by approximately 5 to 10 percent.
Sen. Harris asked what the 5 to 10 percent was based on.
Mr. Clark answered that the analyses reviewed by staff were not clear on this but it would likely vary depending on the jurisdiction being evaluated.
Sen. Borders commented that it would be better to reach potential clients early. He asked if the study addressed the recidivism rate of a first or second time offender as compared to an habitual offender.
Mr. Hager said that the study did not address this issue but that this could be checked by AOC using its information system.
Rep. Rand asked how Kentucky compared to the rest of the United States.
Mr. Hager said that Kentucky seemed further along in implementing drug courts and that the 5 to 10 percent reductions in recidivism did not necessarily pertain to Kentucky.
Rep. Rand asked who determines whether a county has a drug court.
Mr. Hager replied that a local judge initiates the process.
Mr. Hager said the last objective of the report was to review evaluations of Kentuckyís courts. There have been more than 30 evaluations. Process evaluations, which describe how a drug court is being implemented, are the most common. A near consensus finding from the process evaluations was that the lack of transportation is a major impediment for many potential drug court participants. The report recommended that AOC should consider trying to secure funding for a pilot program to assist with transportation for potential participants in drug court. Outcome evaluations with comparison groups showed that graduates had a lower level of felony and misdemeanor charges and convictions than nongraduates and a comparison group. In juvenile courts, there were only 3 evaluations with clear information. The types of outcomes were measured differently and no comparison groups were used. The report recommended that AOC should consider doing more outcome evaluations of adult, juvenile, and family drug courts.
Mr. Hager explained that the only cost-benefit analysis is from a 2001 outcome evaluation of the adult drug courts of Fayette, Jefferson, and Warren Counties. Based on a statistical model, the benefits to society for those who graduated from drug court were more than three times the costs. Benefits for those who did not graduate were somewhat higher than costs. The report recommended that AOC should strongly consider doing more cost-benefit analyses of selected drug courts.
He said that AOC has a management information system with information on clients and those assessed for drug court. He said the system could include information on participantsí criminal history after they leave drug court. The report recommended that AOC consider devoting additional resources to inputting data into and analyzing data from its management information system to better evaluate the outcomes of drug courts.
Rep. Nelson introduced Laurie Dudgeon, Connie Payne and Patrick Yewell from the Administrative Office of the Courts to answer committee membersí questions.
Ms. Dudgeon said that AOC agreed with the reportís recommendations.
Sen. Pendleton asked what the graduation rate was.
Connie Payne responded that it is about 50 percent.
Sen. Harris asked if the drop in federal funding was anticipated.
Ms. Payne said that the federal funding was for the initial implementation of new drug courts and funding then became the statesí responsibility.
Rep. Baugh asked if fees are paid by the state or by the clients.
Ms. Payne said AOC has a memoranda of agreement with comprehensive care centers and they may charge the client after evaluating their income. The charge would be nominal.
Rep. Baugh asked if the requirements for drug court were often too difficult to maintain and led to clients dropping out, such as having court-approved housing.
Ms. Payne responded that drug court is a rigorous program but the team works with the clients to help them succeed. A client will not be terminated on a first offense. If someone cannot find a job, he or she will be assigned community service to complete. The team works with the client and the community to find employment.
Sen. Borders asked if AOC felt the success rate was higher for first and second offenders than for repeat offenders.
Ms. Dudgeon replied yes.
Mr. Yewell said a new juvenile prevention program has been implemented to identify at-risk juveniles early.
Sen. Harris asked how many drug court cases there are.
Mr. Yewell said there are currently 600 participants in juvenile drug court.
Ms. Payne said there are currently 6,452 participants in adult drug court.
Sen. Harris asked when an update to the committee would be feasible.
Ms. Payne said 2 years would be sufficient time to check the data from the new management system implemented in 2006.
Sen. Pendleton made the motion to adopt the report and Rep. Combs seconded. The report Drug Courts was adopted without objection by roll call vote.
The meeting adjourned at 11:30.