Beshear signs two juvenile justice bills
Gov. Andy Beshear signed two juvenile justice bills. (Photo by Getty Images)
Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law on Monday two bills passed by the legislature aimed at improving Kentucky’s juvenile justice system.
The first, House Bill 3, allocates around $20 million to renovate and operate a Jefferson County Youth Detention Center and a facility in Lyndon in Jefferson County.
It will also mandate detention for the most violent juvenile offenders starting July 1, 2024 and open their records for three years. At that time, they can be closed if the minor hasn’t had any other offenses.
Bill supporters have said the required stay – which isn’t supposed to exceed 48 hours – is important so youth have time to access mental health services.
Others testified that since the 48 hours doesn’t include weekends or holidays, youth could inadvertently be detained much longer than that.
The bill received bipartisan support during the session and came after reports of heightened violence in Kentucky’s juvenile detention centers.
Reps. Keturah Herron and Lisa Willner, Louisville Democrats, also introduced legislation that would create a Bill of Rights for incarcerated youth aimed at improving mental health and keeping kids from being arrested in the first place. It did not get a hearing.
Beshear also signed Senate Bill 162 on Monday. It will allot more than $50 million for salaries, retention, new workers and security upgrades, including $30 million for workers in the adult corrections system, the Lantern previously reported.
The Beshear administration has come under sharp criticism from Republican lawmakers for understaffing and other problems in juvenile detention facilities that produced a wave and violence and injuries.
“We hope no juvenile in Kentucky finds their way to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility,” DJJ Commissioner Vicki Reed said in a statement, “but if they do, we are committed to providing the programming they need to successfully return to their community.”
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