Lincoln District Court ends use of Kentucky Alternative Programs

Published 1:24 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

Lincoln County District Court will no longer refer defendants to the private probation and parole monitoring company Kentucky Alternative Programs – one of three counties in the 13th Judicial District which is currently phasing out the use of KAP services. 

Like the 50th District, the 13th District, which includes Lincoln, Jessamine and Garrard Counties, is eliminating the use of KAP following the Kentucky Supreme Court’s modified rules regarding private probation monitoring companies.

County Attorney Daryl Day was informed of the new rules in December or early January and said, while he understands the Supreme Court’s opinion, the end of KAP will mean an increased workload for his office, as well as the Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s Office. 

“The question was, were they charging everybody the same fee and is that fair,” Day said. For instance, Day asked if it would be fair to charge someone who makes $100,000 a year the same fee as someone who is on Social Security Income. 

“You can still use KAP but there are a bunch of requirements in that order. Their fees have to be set on a sliding scale,” he said. 

 The Supreme Court order, which went into effect Jan. 1, defines new requirements private agencies must meet in order to offer probation and parole services, including: 
• the agency must be an independent contractor unaffiliated with the courts;
• it must have “no individual or fiduciary financial relationship with a judge” or a judge’s immediate family in the district it serves;
• leaders of the agency must not be related by blood or marriage “within the third degree” to any judge or judge’s spouse in the district it serves;
• it must maintain $1 million in liability insurance;
• it must accept pro bono referrals from the district court and report back to the court monthly on how many of those pro bono referrals it accepted;
• it must have a “sliding scale” of fees for indigent defendants;
• it must have policies that allow for investigation of complaints from defendants “alleging abusive behavior” by the agency; and
• it must provide proof of appropriate training and certification for its employees.

KAP provides a variety of services including drug screenings; breathalyzer devices for vehicles of repeat DUI offenders and home incarceration supervision (e.g. ankle bracelets). With the 50th and 13th Districts eliminating KAP, those services will have to be found somewhere else. 

In the 10 years Daryl Day has served as the county attorney, district court has used KAP services, he said. 

“Is it going to make it harder on people in local offices like mine and the clerk’s office? Yes, it is, and it’s going to take a lot of adapting…nobody around here really remembers prior to KAP being here. So it’s going back and reinventing the wheel,” Day said. 

Day said he was told KAP would no longer be doing business for the 13th District after March 1, which means his office and the clerk’s office will have to begin monitoring probation, as well as accepting restitution payments. 

“We won’t have the monthly or quarterly meetings with people who are on probation but we will be taking in all the restitution and running records checks fairly regularly,” he said. “We put 1,000 people on probation a year; we can’t run a quarterly check on 1,000 people. It would take someone in my office basically one week out of every quarter doing nothing but that.” 

Additional hires may be a possibility or necessity in the future, Day said. 

“At some point we will get it all streamlined to where we can handle that,” he said.

Day said the Lincoln County Regional Jail will now take over the home incarceration program with ankle monitoring that KAP was providing Lincoln District Court. 

“It will be a bit more work for them but they will also make a little money. They’re not going to make big money, it won’t impact their budget really, maybe $2,000-3,000,” he said. “They have to buy the bracelets and pay someone to monitor that. There’s a daily fee anytime one of those bracelets are in use, too, so it’s not going to mean big money for them.” 
“The one it (the Supreme Court rules change) could really come down on is the Division of Probation and Parole,” Day said. 

The Advocate-Messenger reported earlier this month that Boyle District Court Judge Jeff Dotson was ordering defendants offered probation to be overseen by the state Probation and Parole office. In a later article, Dotson said he doubts the state Probation and Parole office will be able to provide all of the services KAP offered, which means the courts will have to find individual providers for some if not many of the services. 

Lincoln County is one of eight counties served by Probation and Parole’s District 20.

“I know they don’t have the manpower to keep up with all the felony and all the misdemeanor people on probation,” Day said. “There’s no way. They don’t have enough people to monitor all the district court probation out of Pulaski County, let alone throwing in the felonies from circuit court and all of these other counties. You would be talking about a staff of 15 to 20 people to keep up with that.” 

Additionally, Lincoln is one of a few counties in the state that is served by a different circuit and district – it is part of the 28th Circuit Court, along with Pulaski and Rockcastle counties. 

Near the end of last year, a plan to update the state’s judicial circuit and districts to balance workloads was announced and if approved, could move Lincoln from the 13th District to the 28th District. The plan is expected to be presented to the General Assembly in 2017 and would take effect in 2022 if approved. 

According to the Advocate-Messenger, KAP officials said they do not anticipate any other KAP offices besides those in Danville and Nicholasville closing. But Dotson expects to see more courts eventually interpreting the new Supreme Court rules as the 50th and 13th districts have. 

Advocate-Messenger Editor Ben Kleppinger contributed to this report.