Local/Regional News
10:15 pm
Sun June 10, 2012

Chief Justice Says Kentucky Courts "Hollowed Out"

LOUISVILLE, Ky. --  Kentucky Chief Justice John Minton said there has been a "hollowing out" of the state's court system over the last four years because of funding cuts.

Minton said funding for Kentucky courts has dropped by nearly 50 percent since 2009 and about 235 employees have been lost due to layoffs or unfilled positions. He says courthouse doors will be shut three days this year because of the funding cuts.

Minton was speaking Friday at a criminal justice summit centered on policies that affect Louisville's African American community, The Courier-Journal reported.

"Kentucky's courts ... are at a tipping point," Minton told a crowd of about 70 in an auditorium at Jefferson Community and Technical College.

He was on a panel of speakers that included Court of Appeals Judge Denise Clayton and Jefferson County Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Stengel.

Stengel said the three-day court closing would still cost county jails, where people will spend extra time awaiting trial.

Stengel suggested alternatives including ankle bracelets and take-home breathalyzers to allow people awaiting trial or serving certain sentences to be monitored at home.

He said it's better than putting people in jail and prison, where there is little if any rehabilitation, Stengel said.

"You spend a fortune to make it worse," he said.