Kentucky Court of Justice
State Pretrial Services leader receives 2012 Public Advocate Award
FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Tara Boh Klute, head of the statewide Pretrial Services program for the Administrative Office of the Courts, has received the 2012 Public Advocate Award from the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy for promoting pretrial justice.
State Public Advocate Ed Monahan presented the award to Klute at the DPA’s Public Defender Education Conference in Louisville on June 5. The award is given annually to individuals who advance justice in the commonwealth.The award is a framed copy of the Kentucky Bill of Rights with an engraved placard bearing Klute’s name and the award title.
In presenting the award, Monahan praised Klute’s work with the risk-assessment tool that pretrial officers use to make recommendations to judges on pretrial release for defendants.
“Tara has been a major contributor in the evolution of Kentucky’s validated, evidence-based risk assessment, which uses facts, not rhetoric or ideology, for making decisions on bail,” Monahan said. “It is imperative to a just and effective criminal justice system that we have decision making that is informed, reasonable and meets the constitutional call for pretrial release. The Kentucky Pretrial Services program operates with these values.”
Klute assisted with developing and implementing the risk-assessment tool and, in 2010, secured funding for a federal study to measure its effectiveness. The study results showed that Kentucky’s pretrial release, rearrest and failure-to-appear rates were among the best reported by any criminal justice program in the nation, according to the non-profit Pretrial Justice Institute in Washington.
PJI Executive Director Timothy J. Murray said Klute’s “remarkable leadership and professionalism have set a new standard for pretrial practitioners everywhere.”
“Her dogged commitment to justice, collaboration and accountability has made the Kentucky justice system safer, more effective and fairer while inspiring stakeholders across the nation to reach for the standards she has worked so hard to make a reality,” Murray said.
As chief operations officer for Pretrial Services, Klute assists in operating a department with more than 280 pretrial officers and other employees. The department provides investigation, supervision and diversion programs as part of the state court system. Klute has worked in Pretrial Services for the AOC for 17 years and has been at the helm of the program for four years. Klute began her career in Pretrial Services as a line interviewer for Fayette County. She served in several supervisory positions before being named assistant general manager of Pretrial Services in April 2006 and then moving up.
“Since Tara began working for the court system as a pretrial interviewer in 1995, she has earned many promotions and helped Kentucky build one of the strongest pretrial programs in the country,” AOC Director Laurie K. Dudgeon said. “The Kentucky Pretrial Services program is known throughout the state and country and Tara is considered an expert in the area of pretrial release. The Public Advocate award recognizes all she has done to ensure that defendants in Kentucky are treated fairly during the pretrial process.”
In addition to her role with the pretrial risk-assessment tool, Klute has been instrumental in the Judicial Branch’s implementation of House Bill 463, the state’s sweeping penal code reform that went into effect in June 2011. During the past five years, she has played a key role in developing a sophisticated statewide case management system that replaced a paper system. She was also involved with expanding the Pretrial Diversion Program to 26 counties and implementing the Monitored Conditional Release Program statewide.
Klute has served on committees for the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and was named NAPSA Member of the Year in 2009. She has presented and served as a facilitator at state and national conferences.
Kentucky requires its pretrial officers to interview individuals within 12 hours of arrest. Pretrial officers perform an investigation and collect background information. Once they verify the information and conduct a background check, they complete an objective 13-question risk assessment and make recommendations to the presiding judge on granting pretrial release.
A defendant’s release is based on an assessment of his or her flight risk, anticipated criminal behavior and danger to the community. These factors are measured by the defendant’s family ties, employment, education, length of residence, criminal history and other related matters. The current risk-assessment tool was adopted in 2006.
Administrative Office of the Courts
The AOC is the operations arm for the state court system and supports the activities of nearly 3,300 court system employees and 403 elected justices, judges and circuit court clerks. As the fiscal agent for the state court system, the AOC executes the Judicial Branch budget.