Monday, September 16, 2013

KY Defenders Receive National Award for Pretrial Release Advocacy

National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies Recognize Pioneering Work of KY Defenders

(Orlando, FL, Monday September 16, 2013) The National Association of Pretrial Service Agencies (NAPSA) awarded the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy NAPSA’s John C. Hendricks Pioneer Award for the Kentucky statewide public defender program’s strategic commitment to advance public defender advocacy across Kentucky resulting in an increase of release for indigents prior to trial.

Presenting the award in Orlando, Charlotte McPherson, Manager, Pretrial Services at Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts, said “Kentucky defenders stand out. They have pushed the envelope with their advocacy to insure the pretrial release law is applied equally to those who are poor and unable to make money bail. Kentucky defenders decided to make pretrial release a priority with a comprehensive strategy to achieve just results for their clients by litigating for release at first appearance, challenging unfair decisions in the appellate courts, and sustaining this effort through continuous legal education of its attorneys. B. Scott West, DPA General Counsel and longtime public defender, leads DPA’s renewed emphasis on bail advocacy which has included creating the Kentucky Pretrial Release Manual, a ready litigation resource, and partnering with the KY Pretrial Release Officers on education and communication. Over the last two years pretrial release has increased 3% across Kentucky.”

“One of the most important objectives for our clients is release pretrial,” KY Public Advocate Ed Monahan said in accepting the award. “Empirical evidence shows that having counsel at the initial appearance before a judge improves the outcomes for a criminal defendant. And studies show that, holding all other factors constant, individuals who are detained prior to trial suffer from greater conviction rates and more severe sentencing than those who are released prior to trial. I am proud of this recognition of our KY defenders who are working to provide our clients with what we all expect for ourselves, vigorous advocacy for release at first appearance and on appeal. Improving our collaboration with the KY Pretrial Release Officers has been a critical part of the increase in release. These Officers are spectacular professionals.”

NAPSA is the national professional association for the pretrial release and pretrial diversion fields. The John C. Hendricks Pioneer Award is given from time to time by the NAPSA Board of Directors to specially recognize those who have been instrumental in guiding the pretrial movement to new levels of effectiveness,” said NAPSA President Cherise Fanno Burdeen. “We thank the Kentucky defenders for their dedication to pretrial justice. In conjunction with new legal reforms, new risk assessments and the professional work of the KY Pretrial Release Officers, DPA’s nationally recognized pretrial release initiative has avoided costs for KY jails without reduction in public safety

“As a result of HB 463, Kentucky finds itself once again at the forefront of pretrial justice reform. This time, however, there is a critical difference,” said Tim Murray, Executive Director of the Pretrial Justice Institute in Washington, D.C.  “Kentucky defenders refuse to allow the state’s justice system to operate as though reform has not been legislated. With dogged determination, defenders refuse to accept needless pretrial detention as a necessary evil of a busy justice system but instead insist that bail decisions regarding their clients be based upon measured risk – not the dollars they have in their pockets. The Department’s vigorous pursuit of pretrial justice in Kentucky has indeed set the standard for other communities to emulate. This award is the latest installment in recognizing their leadership.”

Jerry Cox of Rockcastle County, Chair of the KY Public Advocacy Commission, the statewide public defender governing board, and President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said “It is imperative for defense lawyers to represent their clients from the first appearance and vigorously advocate for pretrial release. Nothing less is acceptable. The pretrial release work by DPA has helped more clients be released prior to their trials. This is something we all want. And it saves counties money it can use for other needs.  It deserves this important national recognition.”