Attorney General Jack Conway and members of the Prosecutors Advisory Council (PAC) today announced that the Rocket Docket Initiative, which was funded through comprehensive heroin legislation passed during the 2015 General Assembly, has saved taxpayers an estimated $2.8 million in local jail costs in just three months from August 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. This savings is more than twice the amount of funding the initiative received for the entire fiscal year. The projected estimated savings for the current fiscal year is $11 million.
“Since being elected Attorney General, one of my top priorities has been to be fiscally responsible in fighting the drug epidemic that is crippling Kentucky communities,” said Attorney General Jack Conway. “Not only do these programs make the justice system faster and more efficient, they enable non-violent, lower-level offenders with substance abuse issues to receive rehabilitation and treatment. The substantial cost savings to local governments demonstrates the program is not only helping those with addiction, but also taking the burden off the taxpayers.”
In addition to the $2.8 million in incarceration savings during the first three months of implementation, 1,472 cases were completed or were pending in PAC-funded rocket dockets. This saves time and resources for stakeholders in the criminal justice system; including courts, prosecutors, grand juries, public defenders, and clerks. The initiative has also placed 361 defendants in drug treatment. Successful treatment reduces recidivism, which saves additional time and resources for the criminal justice system.
“The expansion and implementation of rocket dockets throughout the Commonwealth has been a tremendous financial benefit to our Commonwealth while ensuring public safety,” said Chris Cohron, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
Christian County Attorney Mike Foster added, “The Kentucky General Assembly committed itself to providing effective treatment for non-violent drug offenders as opposed to the extraordinary expense of long term incarceration. The Rocket Docket Initiative is a proven program that gives individuals the opportunity to become productive citizens, while also creating millions in savings for our state budget. The continued funding of rocket docket programs is an extraordinary opportunity to save lives and effectuate millions of dollars in savings.”
In 2015, PAC received $1 million in funding to implement, expand, or enhance rocket docket programs throughout the Commonwealth. Rocket dockets are a collaborative effort between the County and Commonwealth’s Attorneys to process the appropriate cases more swiftly through the judicial system, which creates cost savings and more quickly identifies defendants who would benefit from drug treatment. PAC funded 28 programs and collected data to measure their success. The funding for these grants was provided to PAC through the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, which received funding from Senate Bill 192.