Friday, 29 August 2014 05:19

Governor Steve Beshear today joined state and local leaders  to ceremonially sign legislation that revamps Kentucky’s juvenile justice system by steering more young offenders into community-based treatment instead of locking them up in detention centers.

Senate Bill 200 calls for early intervention programs and an enhanced pre-court process for youth who are habitual runaways or engage in certain non-violent acts, such as truancy.  Under the new law, before cases are referred to the county attorney, court designated workers will use evidence-based tools to screen and assess youth and make referrals for appropriate services.  The reforms are expected to reduce the number of status and public offenders entering the court system.

“Senate Bill 200 represents an important first step in addressing juvenile justice reform in our Commonwealth, and gives us the opportunity to address the underlying issues that are often the cause of young people acting out,” Gov. Beshear said.  “The result is less crime, smarter spending, and better outcomes for Kentucky’s most-troubled kids.”

The bill limits the commitment of certain lower-level offenders and how long they may be placed out-of-home, reserving longer placement in expensive out-of-home facilities for more serious offenders.

The bill also establishes an oversight council, which will monitor the effectiveness of the policies and make recommendations based on the findings.  And it directs that any savings achieved from the reforms be reinvested into a fiscal incentive program for local evidence-based prevention programs.

The measure is the result of work by the bi-partisan Unified Juvenile Code Task Force with assistance from the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The task force met for two years with juvenile justice and social service workers, court officials, school officials and other stakeholders.


Most reforms will take effect in the summer of 2015


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