New supreme court order means ‘get out of jail free’ card many offenses

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – For the next six weeks, people arrested in Kentucky for non-violent and non-sex related crimes will be released under new rules released Tuesday by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

But police say it will mean litle change for them but more attentin for prosecutrs and others.

The order, which applies through May 31 but is not retroactive, is part of the court’s continuing response to the coronavirus epidemic and concerns of the virus spreading through jails with devastating results.

According to The order, people not thought likely to commit new criminal activity and charged with new felonies or misdemeanors falling into certain categories will be released on their own recognizance.

But those with a history of failing to appear for court or of repeat offenses don’t qualify but will be supervised by “Pretrial Services through monitored conditional release” an will report by phone, according to the order.

Instead of being arrested, those who have warrants for failure to pay court costs, fees or fines or failure to appear will be given a ticket with a court ate after May 31.

Alcohol-related offenses such a first offense DUI, public intoxication, and drinking in public will result in the offender being released to a responsible adult or when they can “safely care” for themselves, but they won’t be held for more than eight hours.

People “arrested for contempt of court on civil matters (excluding any violation of a protective order), nonpayment of child support or nonpayment of restitution shall be released on recognizance and a show cause hearing shall be set after May 31, 2020,” according to a news release from the Court.

All other cases must be reviewed by a judge within 12 hours, according to the order.

Police say For them, nothing changes. Their protocol is no different when they arrest someone for DUI. They will still take the person to jail because part of their tests are done at the jail. It’ll be the prosecutor who has them released.

The order includes a list of crimes that are not eligible for release.

The order also sets new guidelines for pretrial drug testing in order “to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both the providers and defendants,” a news release stated.

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