When reforms to Kentucky’s juvenile justice system were discussed in the General Assembly in 2014, the efforts focused on several core goals: holding youth accountable, achieving better outcomes for youth, and maintaining public safety. Two years later, and just 6 months after full implementation of SB 200, the numbers are already showing the positive impact of the reforms. Data reported at the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council in January showed progress on a number of fronts:
- More cases are ensuring youth participate in needed services to address underlying issues through the Family Accountability, Intervention and Response (FAIR) teams. More than 40 percent of cases reviewed by these FAIR teams are being successfully diverted.
- Increases in successful diversion will mean a positive impact for public safety. Youth who are successfully diverted from the court system into more effective community based interventions are much less likely to commit another offense and return to court.
- Fewer youth are ending up committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) for behaviors that don’t constitute a threat to public safety. We know taking youth out of their home and communities for minor offenses spends the state’s resources on a practice that isn’t effective. Comparing the six months since reforms have been in place to the same time period last year shows a 48 percent drop in commitments to DJJ.
The numbers show that reforms are working and are having the intended impact. Work still remains to ensure our state responds to youth behavior in ways that hold youth accountable while also achieving better outcomes for youth and improved public safety. Let’s continue to make evidence- and data-informed decisions – its working for our kids, families, and communities!