Bill aimed at jailing fewer children in Kentucky advances in legislature

jbrammer@herald-leader.comMarch 26, 2014 

FRANKFORT — The House Judiciary Committee signed off on a bill Wednesday to overhaul the state's juvenile justice system with the aim of jailing fewer children.

Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, would encourage alternatives to jail for children younger than 18 charged with noncriminal "status" offenses, such as skipping school or running away from home.

Some judges now sentence such nonviolent offenders to detention centers, where they are housed with young people who have committed serious crimes.

SB 200 could save the state as much as $24 million over five years by placing more juveniles in community-based treatment instead of putting them in detention centers, Westerfield said. The state could reinvest the savings to expand community-based programs for status offenders, he said.

Also, the bill would require increased data collection on juvenile offenders and a state system to track juvenile recidivism rates. An oversight council would be formed to manage implementation of the bill.

The committee vote to send the measure to the full House was 17 in favor with no opposition. Four members cast a "pass" vote.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service