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The KY Criminal Justice Council met Wednesday September 16, 2016.  The Council heard from many criminal justice leaders including corrections, prosecutors, KACDL and defenders. Public Advocate Ed Monahan presented 10 common sense ways to safely save corrections costs starting 2016 along with information about criminal justice facts, click here for the entire PowerPoint, including the following:


Great U.S. Criminal Justice System Should Work For All

By Ed Monahan, Public Advocate

Americans enjoy the greatest criminal justice system ever known to civilization. Every person is entitled to a lawyer if facing incarceration, accorded due process when liberty is at risk, and assured freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures — to name just a few of the individual liberties we enjoy in our democracy.

Yet, we still have serious problems. Disturbing disparities are coming to light via U.S. Department of Justice investigations.

The March 2015 investigation in Ferguson, Mo. revealed the improper incarceration of poor people because of their inability to pay questionable fees and costs. Imposing such financial sanctions without an ability-to-pay determination is illegal.

Click here for full Op-Ed published by the Lexington Herald-Leader on July 26, 2015 


Good Samaritan Immunity Saves Lives

At the June 26, 2015 SB 192 Heroin Bill Oversight Committee meeting, Public Advocate Ed Monahan, Covington Trial Attorney Daniel Schubert, Campbell County Directing Attorney Eva Hager, Boone County Directing Attorney Steve Florian testified that the Good Samaritan Immunity is the most important part of SB 192 because it saves lives.

(click here for full story)


Kentucky Public Defenders Recognize Individuals Advancing Protections for Citizens and the Right to Counsel at 2015 Gathering

The right to counsel stands above all other constitutional protections. “Of all the rights that an accused person has, the right to be represented by counsel is by far the most pervasive for it affects his ability to assert any other rights he may have.” U.S. v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 654 (1984). Public defenders statewide gathered June 16, 2015 to recognize individuals advancing the right to counsel and protections for persons facing a loss of liberty. Presentations were made during the 2015 Kentucky Public Defender Recognition Lunch in Lexington KY.

(Click here for full story)



A federal court has ordered St Louis County Municipality to end cash bail. 

Press Release with more information.    

Order from the court.  


Commonsense Reforms Urged to Reduce State and County Correctional Costs

(Click here to read entire press release.)

(Frankfort, Kentucky October 3, 2014) Commonsense criminal justice reform was called for at today’s Interim Joint Judiciary Committee meeting. The Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky’s statewide public defender program, presented 10 commonsense ways to safely reduce waste in Kentucky’s criminal justice system. They are set out in detail here.

Click here for a video of the full testimony.

Jim Waters Testifies

Jim Waters of the BlueGrass Institute, center,  testifies before the October 3, 2014 Joint Judiciary Committee on the need for commonsense criminal justice reform to insure good stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars. Lexington’s Wesley United Methodist Church Pastor Anthony Everett, left, and Public Advocate Ed Monahan, right, also testified for commonsense reform.

(Click here to read Jim Waters' full testimony)


Public Advocate Presents 10 Commonsense Ways to Reduce Waste in Kentucky’s Criminal Justice System

The Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act, HB 463 (2011), requires that the Kentucky Criminal Justice Council report on the implementation of the Act's provisions within the various elements of the criminal justice system and make recommendations that will further advance that Act.  The Council met Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at the Justice Cabinet in Frankfort, KY. The following agencies made presentations at the meeting detailing the impact of HB 463 on their respective areas:

  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Public Advocacy
  • Administrative Office of the Courts
  • Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Kentucky Commonwealth’s Attorneys Association


Public Advocate Ed Monahan, who serves on the Council, presented recommendations and discussed the context of falling Kentucky crime rates. Monahan presented 10 Commonsense ways to reduce waste in Kentucky’s criminal justice system and reduce costs for counties and the state: Lasting and Unrealized Benefits of HB 463. The 10 ideas would produce substantial savings from

  1. Reclassifying minor misdemeanors to violations
  2. Creating "gross misdemeanor" classification for low level felonies
  3. Promoting employment/reducing recidivism by creating Class D felony expungement
  4. Reducing days in the county jail by creating "clear and convincing" standard for the pretrial release decision
  5. Modifying violent offender and PFO statutes
  6. Presuming parole for eligible low-risk offenders
  7. Providing alternative sentencing plans for flagrant non-support instead of imprisonment for felony
  8. Creating alternatives to incarceration
  9. Increase the felony theft limit from $500 to $2,000
  10. Reducing waste by limiting capital prosecutions

(They are set out in detail here)

Monahan said, “Through the foresight of Kentucky leaders, HB 463 has brought significant savings while not adversely affecting public safety. This is what taxpayers want. However, more reforms are necessary to continue to safely reduce waste in the Kentucky criminal justice system and to fully achieve what taxpayers want. While the Kentucky crime rate declines, the Kentucky corrections population continues to be above projections at a significant and unnecessary cost to the state. There are sound measures to address the waste. They can be accomplished in 2015.”

A survey of defenders statewide on how HB 463 was being implemented had 80 responses from 29 defender offices, Pikeville, Covington, Shepherdsville, Hopkinsville, Paducah, Madisonville, Richmond, Prestonsburg, Maysville, Lexington, Glasgow, Morehead, Somerset, Burlington, LaGrange, Murray, Elizabethtown, Newport, Harlan, Stanton, Owensboro, Columbia, Frankfort, Louisville, Catlettsburg, Bowling Green, London, Louisville and Danville. The major findings were:

  1. When it comes to reducing incarceration, the most effective solution is reducing sentences, when it can be done in a responsible way.  The reduction in sentences for drug possession is seen as the biggest success of HB 463 in achieving its goals.  All other potential solutions can be thwarted by the discretion available in different parts of the criminal justice system.
  2. Two promising innovative ideas in HB 463, Deferred Prosecution and Bail Credit, are widely seen as failures, because of the ability of prosecutors and courts to decline to implement the ideas.  Deferred Prosecution is unavailable in large parts of the state with two-thirds of responses saying they worked with at least one prosecutor who does not allow Deferred Prosecution in any case.  More than half of respondents say that Bail Credit has either never been granted or has been extremely rare.  Less than 10% say that Bail Credit is regularly granted, as was intended by HB 463.
  3. There is good news and bad news on pretrial release.  More than 70% responded that low risk defendants are being released on bond as intended.  Unfortunately, most did not agree that moderate risk defendants are being released in most cases, as anticipated by HB 463.  Also, by overwhelming numbers (95%), respondents said that defendants being released often have extra conditions now, including drug testing, Monitored Conditional Release, or similar programs.
  4. Probation practices are promising.  Over 80% of public defenders surveyed said that first-time felony offenders are usually probated and almost 60% said that probation violators are generally not revoked at the first opportunity.
The Advocate

Advocate Newsletter June 2015





  • Summary of 2015 Heroin Bill
  • Summary of 2015 Criminal Law Legislation
  • DNA Evidence: An Expansion of the Kentucky Open Records Act
  • Two New Batson Cases - summary
  • The Next Step: Six Common Sense Proposals to Save While Holding Offenders Accountable and Protecting the Public
  • Call to End Predatory Collection Practices

Reading The Advocate is now more convenient than ever! In addition to our published version, the DPA is now offering a regularly-updated digital version. The Advocate Online You are now leaving the domain is a vital source of information for:

  • Legislative news and updates
  • Summaries of Kentucky Supreme Court and Court of Appeals criminal opinions
  • And much more!

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Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians displayed at The Paul Sawyier Public Library

Framed posters of Black men and women who have made historic contributions to Kentucky’s progress in the areas of civil and human rights are being shown during Black History Month at The Paul Sawyier Public Library, 319 Wapping Street, Frankfort, KY. They will also be available for viewing during the February Art Walk.

A video of the opening of the event is available at this link.

The framing and display have been made possible in great part as a result of a grant of $1,500 from The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc., an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. The Council is supported by the National Endowment and by private contributions. It is not a state agency, and receives no state funds, but is a proud partner with Kentucky's cultural, heritage, arts, and tourism agencies. "The Kentucky Humanities Council is proud to be a sponsor of the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians. It furthers our mission of Telling Kentucky's Story.  Celebrating the African Americans who have made significant contributions to Kentucky's progress in the areas of civil and human rights is an important story to be told,” said Ben Chandler, Executive Director.

Those exhibited at The Paul Sawyier Public Library include: Charles Anderson, Jr., Whitney Young, Mary Merritt, Rufus Atwood, William Childress, Lyman Johnson, Marnel Moorman, Georgia Davis Powers, Mae Street Kidd, Moneta Sleet, Jr., Alice Dunnigan, Anna Mac Clarke, Carl Brashear, Jonah Jones, Garrett Morgan, Gerald Neal, Helen LaFrance, and Darryl T. Owens.

“It is our pleasure and privilege to host this high quality display that recognizes and honors the remarkable accomplishments of women and men who through talent, hard work, and determination have contributed and continue to contribute so much to enrich our history, our lives and our society,” said Paul Sawyier Public Library Executive Director Donna Gibson. 

“We’re pleased that Kentucky Public Advocate Ed Monahan and the Department of Public Advocacy are placing on exhibit our Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians in the Paul Sawyer Library,” said John J. Johnson, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights. “Kentucky African Americans have made exemplary accomplishments and play significant roles in history,” he said,” and through libraries, the public may share the opportunity to learn about the individuals featured in the Gallery, many of whom are outstanding role models

for young people.” The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights created the Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians poster series in 1970. The colorful, biographical pieces are used by teachers and libraries to introduce students and the public to the accomplishments of Kentucky African Americans whose stories have often been left out of traditional histories and text books. Their contributions cover a wide range of issues and eras from the Civil War period to activists of today. Their fights against discrimination are in the areas of race, sex, religion, disability, age and economic status, religion or other human rights arenas. The series is available electronically at this link

“The ‘Gallery’ is a historical conceptualization designed to help identify, understand and eliminate remaining psychological and sociological vestiges of racial discrimination. ‘For racism wastes the human potential endangering the public tranquility and compromises the national integrity to the detriment of everyone.’ C. Eric Lincoln. Race, Religion and the Continuing American Dilemma (1998) p. 275. This visual production of great Black Kentuckians addresses the racial-ethnic dilemma in Kentucky and the nation implicating the basic assumption that knowledge is power - the ability to move others with or without their consent. Thus, ‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.’” Professor Alvin M. Seals, Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Kentucky State University.

After display at the Library the posters will be permanently displayed at the Department of Public Advocacy’s main state office. Public Advocate Ed Monahan expressed appreciation to all those who have supported this effort to make visible these Kentucky heroes, “Being aware of the rich history of Black Kentucky heroes is an important way to understand the social and moral meaning of their sacrifice for freedom in a land that has promised it but too often fallen far short of assuring it. These leaders inspire public defenders and people of good will to work for a society that is more just.” 

This Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians is not mere testament to the past but it is witness to the ability to shape a future that puts an end to the history of racial caste in America by joining “hands with people of all colors who are not content to wait for change to trickle down, and say to those who would stand in our way: Accept all of us or none.” Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (2010) p. 245.

Generous financial and other support for this Exhibit has been provided by:

§  The Paul Sawyier Public Library, 319 Wapping Street, Frankfort, KY

§  The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights which enforces the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Civil Rights Act. These laws make discrimination illegal. The Commission works to end discrimination and promote equality for everyone.

§  The Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc.

§  Alvin M. Seals, Retired Associate Professor of Sociology, Kentucky State University; BA, Philander Smith College; MA, University of Kentucky; Doctoral Studies, University of Kentucky; Visiting Faculty Program, Harvard University; A Specialist in Race Relations having lectured and directed seminars across Kentucky on the subject. Seals has been a Visiting Professor at Berea College, The University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. 

§  Scherer Boyd, SAKS Art Gallery, Lexington KY

§  Representative Derrick Graham,  House District 57

§  Senator Julian M. Carroll,  Senate District 7

§  Ed Monahan, Public Advocate, Department of Public Advocacy, Kentucky’s statewide public defender program which in Fiscal Year 2013 represented 161,000 indigent clients accused of or convicted of a crime in all 120 counties.


Our Mission

To provide each client with high quality services through an effective delivery system, which ensures a defender staff dedicated to the interests of their clients and the improvement of the criminal justice system. The Department of Public Advocacy is an independent agency attached for administrative purposes to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet headed by J. Michael Brown, Secretary. DPA is the statewide public agency providing public defender service in all of Kentucky's 120 counties as will as Kentucky's appellate courts.

History of the DPA

A half century ago the Kentucky Supreme Court held that "common justice demands" that an attorney must be appointed when a person charged with a felony is too poor to hire his own counsel. Gholson v. Commonwealth, 212 S.W.2d 537 (Ky. 1948). In the 1960s Kentucky attorneys began to request compensation when they were forced to represent indigents charged with a crime. In 1963, the United States Supreme Court determined that if a state wants to take away a person's liberty, it has to provide an attorney to those persons too poor to hire their own in order to comply with the Federal Constitution. Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963). While consistently unsuccessful in convincing Kentucky's highest Court that the judiciary could and should order payment, Kentucky's appointed attorneys did persuade the Kentucky Supreme Court to the point that the Court began to directly encourage the General Assembly to provide a systematic solution for paying the attorneys who were being made to represent the accused.

On September 22, 1972, Kentucky's highest Court characterized the forced representation of indigents as an "intolerable condition" and held it was an unconstitutional taking of an attorney's property - his service to the client - without compensation. From then on no Kentucky attorney could be required to represent an indigent absent compensation. Bradshaw v. Ball, 487 S.W.2d 294 (Ky. 1972).

While the appeal in Bradshaw was pending, the 1972 Legislature, at the request of Governor Wendell Ford, created the Office of Public Defender, now the Department of Public Advocacy (DPA), and gave it the responsibility to represent all persons in Kentucky charged with or convicted of a crime. House Bill 461 sponsored by Representatives Kenton, Graves and Swinford passed the House 60-18 on March 7, 1972 and the Senate 26-5 on March 14, 1972. It allocated $1,287,000 for FY 73 and FY 74.


See Also...
  CLE Opportunities for Criminal Defense Bar
Conferences, live distance learning, and recorded online distances learning from the DPA's Kentucky Public Defender College.



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Last Updated 9/29/2015