Judicial Court and Recovery Centers
The pandemic caused delays in court proceedings, transitioning some to virtual hearings. With the delays, the two recovery centers in the region – Owensboro Regional Recovery (ORR) and Women’s Addiction Recovery Manor (WARM) – experienced a decrease in residents sent from the courts. To comply with social distancing guidelines, there was also a decrease in the allowed capacity of these centers. Extra cleaning supplies and procedures, the purchase of PPE, and physical modification to the buildings brought additional expenses.
Kentucky made available Community Development Block Grant – COVID-19 (CDBG-CV) funds to supplement the annual CDBG funds. Each Recovery Kentucky center applied for $200,000 of additional funds to offset the financial impacts of the pandemic. ORR was the first recovery center in Kentucky to receive CDBG-CV funding, followed shortly by WARM.
Five of seven counties in the Green River area have jails: Daviess, Henderson, McLean, Ohio, and Webster. The jail system experienced unique financial and health setbacks. For instance, the limited space in the jails increased the risk for an outbreak of COVID-19, and jails struggled to find enough workers throughout the course of the pandemic.
COVID-19 made it difficult to transfer inmates, leading to a reduced inflow of state prisoners to local jails. Since jails receive revenue from housing state prisoners, they saw a negative financial impact.
Regulations regarding inmates during the pandemic had impacts outside of jails. Some cities in the region rely on inmate labor to do their upkeep, such as mowing parks and around city hall. Instead, cities hired private individuals to do the work, or in some cases, city leaders themselves did the work.
The 2020 primary election in Kentucky was postponed from May 19 to June 23 in the hopes that the severity of the pandemic would decrease. Union County made mail-in ballots available for all registered voters and opened only one physical polling location in the courthouse from June 1-23 by reservation-only.
A pandemic during a presidential election year brought unprecedented changes to voting. Although Kentucky usually requires a reason for absentee voting, that was not the case in 2020. No-excuse absentee and early voting brought a high turnout of votes cast. Early voting began a month before election day. Mail-in ballot rules were modified
to accommodate arrivals as late as November 6. Hancock County narrowed down its ten precincts to three voting super centers. Other counties allowed in-person voting at any precinct, regardless of a voter’s home address in their county.