Mara Powell
502-895-8167 *122

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

Kentucky is a leader in youth 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. Just as a bicycle works best when it uses the right gear for the terrain, our juvenile justice system should use different responses for different situations. The Commonwealth has been stuck in a single gear when it comes to the mandatory transfer of youth to adult court for certain offenses and today the Senate Judiciary Committee took steps to address that.

Senate Bill 87, championed by Chairman Whitney Westerfield, seeks to eliminate the mandatory transfer of youth 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 within the youth justice system.

An efficient and effective youth justice system holds kids accountable, helps them grow up to become contributing members of their community, and increases public safety. There are many critical opportunities to improve the youth justice system, and this is a good example of progress being made. 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.

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