Boyle-Mercer justice council held first meeting Friday

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The new joint Boyle-Mercer Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is up and running following its first meeting Friday.

The 22-member council consists of representatives from a wide swath of organizations and public agencies involved in the criminal justice system. It will be instrumental in the development of an “action plan” for reducing recidivism, lowering inmate populations and improving inmate outcomes at the Boyle County Detention Center.

Ben Kleppinger/
Dr. Allen Beck, a consultant with Brandstetter Carroll, talks to the council about the process of developing an “action plan” for the Boyle County Detention Center.

Friday’s meeting focused on giving the council members a general sense of their purpose, as explained by consultants Dr. Allen Beck and Dr. Kenneth Ray. The council also chose co-chairs to lead meetings — Boyle Judge-Executive Harold McKinney and Mercer Judge-Executive Milward Dedman.

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Beck and Ray are part of a consulting team from Brandstetter Carroll, hired by the two counties to come up with answers on what should be done about the jail they share. They told council members they are in the midst of gathering as much data on the jail — and the surrounding criminal justice system — as possible. 

While they’re not ready yet to talk about any findings, Ray said “there is a very strong consensus” among all the stakeholders they’ve interviewed that they want “certain different criminal justice outcomes for offender populations.”

“You will be working with us as we begin to develop these options … it’s not a one-size-fits-all; it has to be tailored to what’s going on here,” Ray said. “This group here will … identify those options that you think will be meet the desired outcomes you want.”

Ray and Beck said the council will work with Brandstetter Carroll to develop an action plan that the counties can follow to achieve the options they select. The council will also continue to monitor and work toward further improvements after Brandstetter Carroll’s role is done.

“I know that sounds kind of nebulous, because we don’t have really all the information we need to roll out,” Ray said. 

Ray said the fact that so many different people working in the criminal justice system seem to already agree that “certain things need to be done differently” is a good sign.

“It’s not a lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key community from what we’ve seen and heard so far,” he said. “… There seems to be a desire for sort of a prescriptive approach to the use of a jail.”

Brandstetter Carroll will be providing the council with “a lot of information” on “the damage a jail can do to a community if not done well,” but also on how the whole system outside the jail matters to the ultimate outcomes for inmates in the jail, Ray said.

“You have to look at the whole process because the jail is not the problem. It’s a symptom,” he said. “… It’s one of many symptoms that come from a system. So we’re looking at the whole system to see where all these symptoms are” and how they can be resolved.

“It’s not about solving problems as much as it is creating a work plan that gets your community where you decide you want it in the next five years, the next 10 years, the next 20 years, with regard to how criminal justice operates, what outcomes you want from your criminal justice system, what you want your jail to really be about, what outcomes you want generated from your jail.”

No judges

Ben Kleppinger/
Boyle County Judge-Executive Harold McKinney will chair meetings of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council when it meets in Boyle County. When the council meets in Mercer County, Mercer County Judge-Executive Milward Dedman will chair.

The council notably lacks representation from court judges. Darren Peckler, circuit court judge for Boyle and Mercer counties has been “pretty adamant there would be no” participation from local judges on the council, according to comments made by Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley in November.

Conley said then that Peckler didn’t want any judges to wind up in a “possibly litigious situation” if the council was sued.

Boyle County Attorney Lynne Dean said in November she would talk to Peckler about having a judge or judges’ representative sit on the council, but no court judge member had been added as of Friday’s council meeting.

Boyle County Magistrate Jack Hendricks, a member of the council, has previously questioned how effective the council can be if the local judges will not participate.

“There’s a lot of words I could use, but the worst thing is I think it’s pitiful that they don’t want to be involved in this,” Hendricks said in November.

Brandstetter Carroll provided council members Friday with an informational document about another criminal justice coordinating council, this one in a different state, to help them understand the council’s role. The document notes that a CJCC ideally “encompasses broad representation, recognized authority and adequate staff support” and “includes representatives of all functional components of the justice system,” among other things.

Building community support

Beck said the CJCC must be transparent, seek public input and get buy-in from the community for its jail plans if it’s going to be successful.

He said he’s seen a case where a jail was under a federal order to take corrective action, but those in charge “chose to keep the public out of everything.” When their action plan was released and it came out that a tax increase would be needed, the public reacted very badly and “stopped it dead in its tracks,” Beck said.

“Now they can’t figure out what to do because they’re under a federal lawsuit to get the inmates out, but they can’t because they don’t have the … dollars they need to build a jail because the community shut it down,” he said.

Boyle and Mercer counties are not under any federal orders to improve their jail, but Beck said the same concept of getting “informed consent” from the public still applies.

“Informed consent means that the public is generally aware of what’s going on and they essentially support it, generally,” he said. “Even if they don’t like it, they recognize that it’s a legitimate thing that’s got to be done.”

In order to give Brandstetter Carroll enough time to finish collecting data, the council decided not to meet in February. It’s next meeting will be 12 p.m. March 9 at the Boyle County Courthouse. After that, the council plans to meet monthly, alternating between Boyle and Mercer locations.


The Boyle-Mercer Criminal Justice Coordinating Council consists of 22 members:

• Harold McKinney, Boyle Judge-Executive

• Millard Dedman, Mercer Judge-Executive

• Barry Harmon, Boyle Jailer

• Bret Chamberlain, Mercer Jailer

• Jack Hendricks, Boyle Magistrate

• Dennis Holiday, Mercer Magistrate

• Lynne Dean, Boyle County Attorney

• Ted Dean, Mercer County Attorney

• Jarod Thomas, non-residential treatment

• Chip Hundley, Probation and Parole

• Robbie Bickett, Public Defender’s Office social worker

• Sarah Bryant, Public Defender’s Office attorney

• Mark Milner, Ephraim McDowell Health

• Kathy Miles, Boyle ASAP

• David Warner, Mercer ASAP

• Ritchie Bottoms, Commonwealth’s Attorney

• Kari Lamb, victims advocate

• Derek Robbins, Boyle Sheriff

• Ernie Kelty, Mercer Sheriff

• Tony Gray, Danville Police Chief

• Brian Allen, Harrodsburg Police Chief

• Kirstie Willard, Department of Corrections Facilities