Mara Powell

Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

LOUISVILLE, KY – Today’s passage of Senate Bill 36, via another bill, by the Kentucky House advances the commonwealth one step closer to a more effective and equitable juvenile justice system. SB 36, sponsored by Senator Whitney Westerfield, seeks to expand court discretion when determining the transfer of youth to adult court for certain offenses – a pragmatic move that will allow for speedier trials, more cost-effective and developmentally appropriate responses, and better access to rehabilitative supports and services for young people who get in trouble.

This legislation will hold kids accountable, help them grow up to become contributing members of their community, and increase public safety. It is also a key component in addressing the disparities in outcomes for youth of color. Every Kentucky child deserve a chance at a brighter future, yet Black youth continue to be overrepresented in the juvenile justice system at all points due, in part, to factors like mandatory policies that focus on toughness rather than what works to keep youth from committing an offense in the future.

We thank Senator Westerfield for being a true champion for our youngest Kentuckians and efforts to improve outcomes for every child involved in the maze of the juvenile justice system. We thank the Kentucky House for supporting the measure today, and we now call on the Governor to sign it into law.

Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.


About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at