Court system reassembling probation services following closure of KAP

With Kentucky Alternative Programs no longer in operation in Boyle County, the court system is having to turn elsewhere for a wide variety of probation monitoring services.

The mix of which organizations can provide what services is still in flux, as officials work to rebuild the network that was lost with the elimination of KAP.

“It’s a fairly major change,” said Boyle County Attorney Lynne Dean. “We’ve been using (KAP) for a while and we’ve relied on them for a while.”

The closure of KAP, which had provided GPS home incarceration monitoring, drug testing, case management and many other services for district-court offenders, was caused by a Jan. 1 update from the Kentucky Supreme Court to rules regarding the use of private probation monitoring companies. The 50th Judicial District became one of two districts where judges interpreted the new rules to mean the use of KAP was no longer acceptable.

The 13th Judicial District was the other district. KAP’s offices serving those districts — located in Danville and Nicholasville, have been shut down.

While the state Probation and Parole office in Danville is handling some of the work, it doesn’t provide some of the services. Dean explained where the courts are at currently with reassembling the services KAP provided:

• Pretrial Services has taken over monitoring and drug screening because Probation and Parole doesn’t do bond screenings.

• An outside agency, Guardian, holds a state contract and is performing a lot of the drug screenings, as well as DNA testing for child support cases. They are also providing in-court screenings.

• Officials have found an outside agency to begin offering money management skills as a diversion program for people who have no criminal record but have written bad checks.

• The court system is handling more probation cases than it did before.

• GPS monitoring for home incarceration is not currently available. “That’s some I especially have used a lot” for cases of assault and domestic violence, Dean said. “That has been a gap that we are still in the process of filling.”

Another hurdle to be cleared is the handling of cases of individuals who had been on probation through KAP. There are about 600 of those cases that are being reviewed by Judge Jeff Dotson, Dean said.

“I have to hand it to Judge Dotson — he has led the charge on this and has worked hard to review those files,” she said.

And there are cases where people are undergoing alcohol drug education. They are not on probation, she said, but someone must ensure they complete their classes.

“We’re all doing our best to make sure it transitions as smoothly as possible. We’re trying to use our discretion to make sure (Probation and Parole) is monitoring the more serious incidents,” she said. “We don’t want to bombard them, but we also want to make sure that everyone who needs drug screening and needs closer supervision goes to them.”

Dean said the situation in combination with the current drug epidemic has led to the need to review how cases are handled.

“Fourteen years ago … some things were a lot more serious than they are now, in the grand scheme of things. You look at driving on a suspended operators’ license. That’s a misdemeanor, punishable by potential jail time,” Dean said. “We take that very seriously, but when you’ve got somebody like that and somebody selling heroin, you want the jail space for the person who’s trafficking in drugs.”

Those who aren’t jailed will still need monitoring, and those who are already out on probation are not escaping monitoring because of KAP’s closure, Dean said.

“That is not the case. We are still monitoring,” she said.

Ben Kleppinger contributed to this report.