Juvenile justice would get more money, more scrutiny under bills approved by Kentucky Senate

By: - March 7, 2023 5:54 pm

Senate President Pro Tem David Givens presents Senate Bill 158 for the Senate’s consideration. (Photo by LRC Public Information)

Sen. Danny Carroll outlines provisions of Senate Bill 162 in the Senate. (Photo by LRC Public Information)

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Senate Tuesday unanimously passed two bills aimed at stemming what lawmakers called a crisis in Kentucky’s Department of Juvenile Justice.

Senate Bill 162, sponsored by Sen.  Danny Carroll, R-Benton, would allot more than $50 million for salaries, retention, new workers and security upgrades, including $30 million for workers in the adult corrections system.  

Carroll included the Department of Corrections (DOC) in addition to DJJ because, he said on the floor, “Make no mistake: DOC is another crisis waiting to happen.” 

Carroll’s bill, which would take effect immediately, provides:

  • $3.2 million for salary increases that have been promised to DJJ workers. 
  • $4.8 million for DJJ salary increases to other job classifications. 
  • $30 million to the adult corrections budget for salary increases for corrections officers. 
  • $9.7 million for DJJ for 146 new youth workers for detention centers. 
  • $200k for DJJ for development of a defender management system. 
  • $4 million to DJJ for security upgrades and basic security needs. 
  • $1.5 million for a diversionary program that will identify and provide treatment for juveniles needing mental health support for “severe” mental illnesses
  • $1.75 million to retain design architects who know about detention designs and can help design regional facilities. 

Senate Bill 158,  sponsored by Sen. David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, would allocate $500,000 for an independent, third-party review of Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice. 

Senate Bill 158 was amended to say auditors would need to interview local law enforcement as well as DJJ frontline employees. 

“There’s a lot of concern that fact finding can’t happen in an atmosphere of oppression,” Givens said on the floor. “And sadly enough, the culture in the atmosphere in these facilities has been ‘don’t tell, don’t talk.’” 

The bills now go to the House.

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.