Some in Ky. jails waiting for cases to move forward longer than actual sentences would be

Some in Ky. jails waiting for cases to move forward longer than actual sentences would be
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 4:50 PM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - Some people in Kentucky’s jails are waiting more than a year for a competency evaluation.

The evaluation is needed before their case can move forward. However, the wait is so long, many of those behind bars are spending more time in jail than they would’ve served if convicted.

Valerie Church is the directing attorney of the North Trial Office at the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy. She says about 10 to 15 of her clients facing felony charges are awaiting a competency evaluation, delaying cases and causing court proceedings to stop dead in their tracks.

“I have people who are waiting on it charged with Class D felonies something non-violent and then I have people charged with murder,” Church said. “They’re all waiting on the same list and they’re all waiting on the same place to be evaluated.”

A competency evaluation can be ordered by a judge, or the prosecution or defense and can be done as early as the arraignment or later down the line.

However, the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center is the only state-run psychiatric center that conducts these and it’s based in La Grange.

Bluegrass regional manager for the Department of Public Advocacy Chris Tracy says he carries his own caseload and tells us the wait for an in-patient evaluation is now about a year. Some clients are waiting ten months, others as many as 18.

“A lot of times what’ll happen is eventually when they get there and get back, it’s almost a moot point,” Tracy said. “It doesn’t matter what KCPC says, all of a sudden, their offer is credit for time served and they get out the next day.”

He says the hold-up can be attributed to a few things staffing, an increased need and a lack of resources.

Most importantly, he worries for the mental health clients as well as the families of victims, who may not understand why this is going on.

For many of these individuals behind bars, time is standing still, before anyone involved can begin the process to heal.