Some members of the General Assembly want to make changes in Kentucky’s Unified Juvenile Code but there are concerns among those who deal daily with those juveniles that unintended consequences of such changes must be avoided.
Kentucky is one of only about 13 states that hide juvenile court proceedings from public view. The idea is to protect young people who can be stigmatized for life. But Kentucky also incarcerates more “status offenders” than any other state.
(Status offenses are those which, if committed by an adult, would not be considered a crime or violation, such things as school truancy or being beyond the control of parents.)
Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, has previously filed legislation to prohibit “secure detention” for status offenders but the legislation failed to pass both chambers of the General Assembly. Instead, a task force was appointed to consider changes to the juvenile code.
Barren County Superintendent Bo Matthews, who previously served the district as Director of Pupil Personnel for six years, on Wednesday told the task force it should consider making it easier for school officials to work with the Department of Community Based Services to address truancy and control problems early rather than only as a last resort.
“Sometimes we don’t know if a (student’s) case will meet their criteria for intervention,” Matthews said. “But when the court orders the cabinet to get involved, we see some success.”
For the full story, read the Sept. 27 print or e-Edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.