How Kentucky in Keeping Youth Out of the Juvenile Justice System
Date:  12-27-2020

Kentucky is recognized for its juvenile diversion efforts
From Urban Institute:

Juvenile justice systems have come under increased scrutiny this year as states and localities confronted the direct connection between youth incarceration and the COVID-19 public health crisis. But we have long known that juvenile justice system involvement is harmful.

In September, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges issued a new bench card for judges (PDF) explaining how court involvement negatively affects young people. It summarizes how justice system involvement can jeopardize education, employment, housing, and access to public benefits. Justice system involvement can also inflict additional trauma and stress, interfere with peer and family relationships, and disrupt educational continuity and progress. Research indicates that incarceration is an ineffective and costly strategy, but more evidence is proving how detrimental it is just to be in the system at all.

Surprisingly, data released by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in April (PDF) suggest that states and localities are moving in the opposite direction. The proportion of cases formally processed by the court system actually increased over the past several years. But some states are moving in the right direction, and other states could learn from their experiences.

Kentucky is on the front lines of juvenile diversion efforts, and we took a deep dive to see whether their strategy is producing their desired outcomes. Continue reading >>>