Mara Powell

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

LOUISVILLE, KY – Kentucky has been a leader in juvenile justice system reforms in many ways, but there are some practices still in use that we now know do not achieve the best outcomes for kids or communities. And, despite those recent reforms, youth of color continue to be overrepresented in the youth justice system at all points, and the disparities have grown in recent years. An efficient and effective juvenile justice system holds kids accountable, helps them grow up to become contributing members of their community, and increases public safety, and today, the Senate Judiciary Committee took steps to do just that.

Senate Bill 36, championed by Chairman Whitney Westerfield, seeks to allow juvenile court judges to use their discretion in the decision to transfer youth ages 14 and older to adult court for certain offenses. When judges have the discretion to decide how to handle these cases rather than mandating a transfer, courts can respond more effectively to cases, and children can have better access to rehabilitative supports and services.

Passage of SB 36 is a good example of equitable progress being made to improve the juvenile justice system. We thank Senator Westerfield for championing this legislation and the Senate Judiciary Committee for supporting it. We hope and believe that it can lead to further efforts that stand up for kids and public safety, and we now call on the full Senate to support this measure.

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