Kentucky jails will be able to file monthly reports on whether offenders are paying restitution and abiding by parole conditions under a new law taking effect this year.
The provision won’t affect people who are already serving their sentences, however.
The law, passed during the legislative session that ended April 15, is aimed at closing a loophole that allowed offenders to earn credit toward their total prison sentence for the time they were on the streets. The loophole came about during a push in 2008 to alleviate jail overcrowding.
The Paducah Sun reports that the new provision denies credited time to people who are behind in their restitution until they pay in full.
“In a case where you might receive enough credit to be released, it is an incentive,” Justice and Public Safety Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin said. “We can keep you from that credit. Obviously that credit is a huge incentive to individuals, so it helped put some teeth into that.”
Assistant McCracken Commonwealth Attorney Seth Hancock said the old law allowed offenders to avoid restitution payments and shave time off their sentences. The result is some victims may never receive restitution, Hancock said.
“Crime should not pay and unfortunately the way the laws are being enforced now, it’s turning out that it kind of does,” he said.
But because the new law doesn’t put any requirements on those already serving a sentence, Hancock has written to the Kentucky Parole Board about two people about to be released from supervision without repaying their victims.
Hancock pointed to the cases of 37-year-old Flavious Duron Lee, of Marion, Ill., and 53-year-old Peter Williams, of Metropolis, Ill.
Lee owes $6,553.49 to Rentway and ColorTime in Paducah stemming from the thefts of electronics, court records show. Although he was ordered to pay the restitution in 2003, he has made only three payments of $100.
Williams owes $19,000 to a Paducah man, according to his court file. In 2007, he was ordered to pay restitution for damage to a Cadillac Escalade as well as for tools, electronics, a mower, utility trailer, air compressor, paintings and a desk. Court records showed he had paid nothing so far.
Those cases are now in the hands of the state parole board. Hancock suggests charging the off enders with contempt of court for not following the original court order to pay restitution.
“They’re specifically granted the power to do this,” Hancock said. “They’ve just never exercised it as far as I can see.”
The parole board is discussing the situation but has no timetable for a resolution, Brislin said. She called it somewhat of a new issue.
“As we recognize these issues, we’re trying to address them,” she said.