Skip to main navigation Skip to main content


Juvenile Justice

​Historic steps taken to reform the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice: At Gov. Beshear's direction, the Department of Juvenile Justice has implemented several steps to address the challenges in juvenile detention facilities, which include: ​

  • In December 2021, the administration approved salary increases for Psychologists, Social Service Clinicians, Social Service Specialists and Social Service Workers.
    • As a result of these salary increases, the department has been able to reduce staff vacancies and enhance treatment. As of March 1, 2024, out of 290 positions there are 244 filled with 46 vacant medical-related positions. 

  • Contracting with the Kentucky Department of Education, Department of Career and Technical Education in July 2022 for vocational services; allowing juveniles to earn high school credit and certifications leading to future employment. 

  • In October 2022, the Governor approved raising the salary of security personnel to the midpoint and increasing the hourly rate for shift and locality premiums. In December 2021, the Governor approved a 10% raise to help better recruit and retain security personnel and later an 8% raise. 

  • The longstanding booking system has suffered from limited functionality and inadequate reporting capabilities. The administration recognized this problem in the fall of 2022, at which time approval was given to procure the Juvenile Kentucky Offender Management System, which has been publicly discussed in media and testimonies, and additional funding was provided in the 2023 legislative session. The first phase has a completion date goal of June 2024. 

  • In November 2022, a Compliance Branch was formed to conduct random staff interviews and unannounced facility inspections. The goal is to enhance safety and security throughout the department and make recommendations to leadership. 

  • In response to the violent outbreaks – and to enhance security for staff and youth – for the first time in Kentucky, Gov. Beshear opened a female-only detention center and 
    separated m​ale juveniles by security level based on the severity of their offense in December 2022. 

  • In January 2023, the Governor hired Larry Chandler as director of security. Chandler is a former warden of six Kentucky prisons who brings deep experience in operating secure facilities. 

  • The isolation policy was most recently updated on Jan. 13, 2023, through emergency regulation. For a youth to be kept in isolation for longer than 4 hours, the facility superintendent must provide verbal authorization, and staff must document accordingly. 

  • Gov. Beshear signed an emergency regulation in January 2023, providing the department with a p​olicy to train on and deploy pepper spray and tas ers. Senate Bill 162, signed by the Governor in March 2023, mandated the use of pepper spray and tasers similar to the Department of Corrections. All staff are trained, and standard operating procedures were reviewed prior to issuing equipment.

    • As of February 2024, less than 15% of pepper spray incidents have been substantiated as an inappropriate use of force. Of which, there has only been two substantiated cases since Oct. 1, 2023. A comparison of staff assaults before and after the use of pepper spray was authorized shows that staff assaults have decreased by 42%. 

  • Effective Feb. 1, 2023, the Governor raised the youth worker annual salary to $50,000 and reclassified them as correctional officers.  During the 2023 Regular Session, the administration requested an additional 146 security positions, which were included in SB 162.
    • In the past year, because of the administration's efforts, we have increased frontline correctional officers by 63%. The highest number DJJ has employed in recent history, and we are continuing to recruit and retain to further secure our facilities. 

  • Due to critical staffing levels and violent attacks on staff by male juveniles housed at high-level detention centers, the department requested the assistance of the Kentucky State Police at the Adair, Fayette and Warren Juvenile Detention Centers to intervene in the event of an emergency. Effective Feb. 6, 2023, there were two uniformed KSP Troopers inside the detention centers 24 hours per day until May 27, 2023. KSP was there to be a presence only and intervened at their discretion when serious incidents occurred. 

  • The Department of Corrections supplied correctional officers and probation and parole officers to help cover shifts at Campbell Regional Juvenile Detention Center from February to October 2023. 

  • To reduce the transportation burden on law enforcement, the Governor expanded the transportation branch with additional personnel and expanded their vehicle fleet beginning in February 2023. The Governor passed into law the creation of the Division of Transportation in March 2023. Fleet vehicle expansion started in April 2023 with the department taking custody of eight used KSP vehicles.  

  • Pursuant to SB 162, signed by Gov. Beshear in March 2023, detention centers and youth development centers were required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement for emergency response and include these agencies in emergency response trainings. All detention centers and youth development centers have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with at least one law enforcement agency in their communities. 

  • In April 2023, an updated protocol was issued providing Naloxone in all facilities and mandating yearly training. 

  • As of April 28, 2023, any youth in any DJJ facility who commits an assault, escape, engages in substantial property damage, introduces contraband into DJJ facilities or otherwise commits a serious offense is promptly charged. 

  • In May 2023, the Governor reorganized the department by function to better manage the current challenges facing detention facilities. He appointed James Sweatt as Executive Director and Larry Chandler as Deputy Director of the Office of Detention. Both are former wardens of several Kentucky state prisons, bringing a combined 80 years of experience to the department.​ 

  • As of June 2023, all detention center correctional officers have been trained and equipped with pepper spray. 

  • In 2023, the department contracted with Eastern Kentucky University to conduct a training needs assessment for all Correctional Officer/Youth Worker positions. 

  • On Dec. 18, 2023, the Governor released his proposed 2024-2026 budget, which called for funding for two new female-only juvenile detention centers, the renovation of the Jefferson County Youth Detention Center, retrofits to four other detention centers and a facility to provide residential psychiatric treatment for juveniles who need it and would otherwise be placed in detention. The Governor said these safety projects were necessary to make sure there are no low-level male offenders in the same areas as more violent offenders and so that males and females are separated. This funding was necessary to comply with SB 162.
    • The General Assembly did not approve the request. 

  • In January 2024, the Governor named Larry Chandler as Interim Commissioner. 

  • On March 4, 2024, the Governor appointed Troy Pollock as Director of Training. Director Pollock brings 35 years of correctional experience, with an emphasis on training, to the position and has been tasked with implementing the changes recommended in the EKU Needs Assessment as well as revamping the overall training program. 

  • In March 2024, the Governor ap​pointed Keith Jackson as secretary and Mona Womack as deputy secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. 

  • On March 21, 2024, the Governor appointed Randy White as commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice. White retired from the Department of Corrections after 27 years of service, and during that time, Kentucky secured the lowest recidivism rate in state history.
    • Commissioner White is prioritizing reducing youth crime and recidivism, increasing mental health treatment, enhancing employee training and securing all 27 juvenile facilities to better protect youth and staff, while continuing to implement the administration's aggressive plan to enhance safety in response to violent incidents.