Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act


Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 6th Meeting

of the 2011 Interim


<MeetMDY1> December 16, 2011


Call to Order and Roll Call

The<MeetNo2> 6th meeting of the Task Force on the Penal Code and Controlled Substances Act was held on<Day> Friday,<MeetMDY2> December 16, 2011, at<MeetTime> 10:00 AM, in<Room> 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.


Present were:


Members:<Members> Senator Tom Jensen, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; J. Michael Brown, Tom Handy, John D. Minton, Jr., J. Guthrie True, and Tommy Turner.


Guests: Anne Hadreas, Kentucky Equal Justice Center; Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Vera Institute of Justice.


LRC Staff: Norman Lawson Jr., Jon Grate, Joanna Decker, Ray DeBolt, and Rebecca Crawley.


Chairman Jensen called the meeting to order, and the minutes were approved by voice vote. Chairman Tilley arrived shortly thereafter and assumed the chairmanship of the meeting.


Comments of Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr.

Chief Justice John D. Minton, Jr. indicated he would have to leave the meeting early due to another engagement and thanked the General Assembly for placing him on the task force as the representative of the Court of Justice. The Chief Justice described the appointment as a great learning opportunity and appreciated being able to present the views of the Court of Justice. The Chief Justice indicated he had reviewed the draft task force report and was in agreement with and fully supportive of the portions of the report related to the Court of Justice.


Vera Institute of Justice

Lauren-Brooke Eisen, Program Associate, Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice presented a progress 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 funding request 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 that 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 which include 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 the 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. Senator Jensen asked Ms. Eisen if she was obtaining the needed information to which she replied, yes. Mr. Handy asked about funding for the Administrative Office of the Courts technology upgrade and the Department of Corrections sentencing information system. Ms. Eisen said additional funding may come from the General Assembly and an additional request for federal funds might be made, but the 2013 implementation date for the Department of Corrections information website made the request less critical for the present funding request.


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 indicated that from a research perspective, Results First might not be adequate as the sole determinant for identifying and selecting corrections programs that have the most potential to provide net benefits. The Washington model focuses on recidivism and the 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 said 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. Mr. Gary Vanlandingham from the PEW Foundation, who is working with the Results First project, agreed the effect size is important and that more long-term Kentucky data would make the program more effective.


Discussion of Report

Chairman Tilley told the task force 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 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 said 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. Mr. True indicated that he has concerns regarding aggregation and urged the task force not to include the provisions; 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. Clarify various provisions in the drug court statute as recommended by the Court of Justice; 8. Clarify misdemeanor citation and arrest powers. Mr. True and Mr. Handy agreed that nothing should be done to change the present statute; 9. Clarify application of bail credits. A wait and see caution was expressed by several members of the task force. County Judge Executive Turner recommended clarification as to what constituted a "day" in jail and further education of participants; 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, to which several members commented that this is easier said than done; 19. Create a task force to review juvenile justice matters. Chairman Tilley complimented Representative Flood's efforts in this area; 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. Mr. Handy recommended the inclusion of efforts to control pill mills and this was approved by the task force.


The report, as amended, was approved for transmittal to the Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary and the Legislative Research Commission. The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.