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Significant Number of Youth at DJJ Graduate from High School

Enhancing public safety and reducing recidivism

Frankfort, KY. (July 7, 2020) -The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced today that in keeping with its promise to provide high quality education and vocational services for youth in their custody, a total of 70 youth graduated from DJJ programs for the 2019-2020 academic year and an additional 11 youth earned a GED.

Even with the population reduction in DJJ’s facilities due to precautionary measures of protecting the health and safety of correctional staff and youth from the novel coronavirus, the numbers for 2019-2020 represent a high number of graduates.

“As a state, we must put education first so that every child in our state grows up to be the best they can be,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “I am exceptionally proud of the 81 youth from DJJ who graduated with their high school diploma or earned their GED, and look forward to the many opportunities this education will provide to them in their next educational setting or career pathway.”

DJJ educational programs adhere to all Kentucky state requirements and each facility complies with the local school district’s plan to meet the Kentucky Academic Standards according to 704 KAR 3:303. Students receive 6.0 hours of classroom instruction per day per KRS 158.060 (3) and teachers on staff at DJJ are fully certified according to Kentucky Professional Standards Board.

“DJJ is committed to providing quality educational opportunities for youth that empower them to achieve academically,” said DJJ Commissioner LaShana Harris. “One of the more exciting aspects of that mission is ensuring that the youth in DJJ custody receive education and vocational certifications that provide them with skills and options to seek a higher education or gain viable employment once they have transitioned back into the community.”

In addition, youth residents earned a total of 156 vocational certificates during the 2019-2020 academic year. Vocational opportunities available include: Building and Apartment Maintenance/Carpentry, Building and Apartment Maintenance/Electrical, Welding, Masonry, Horticulture, Business, Computer training, Fiber Optics, Copper Cabling, Home Audio, Energy Management, Telecom, and Grounding and Bonding.

If a youth in DJJ custody has already earned a high school diploma, they are given the opportunity to earn ACT WorkKeys, attend online college courses, participate in work experience, if applicable, or take vocational and technical classes.

“The Department strives to meet the needs of every youth in order to provide them with an opportunity to be a productive student. Many youth who are in the custody of the Department have not excelled or thrived in the traditional academic setting. The education staff are dedicated to meeting the youth where they are so that they can have a positive academic and meaningful learning experience,” Commissioner Harris said.

DJJ youth will return to classroom instruction for the 2020-2021 academic school year according to the school district’s schedule where the DJJ facility is located.

About the Department of Juvenile Justice

The Department of Juvenile Justice is an agency under the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet responsible for prevention programs for at-risk youth, court intake, pre-trial detention, residential placement and treatment services, probation, community aftercare, and reintegration programs, as well as the confinement of youth awaiting adult placement or court. The Department strives to promote a comprehensive array of cost-effective services for at-risk youth. These services are directed toward preventing delinquency, providing efficient rehabilitation services, and altering the rate of recidivism with appropriate aftercare while minimizing risk to the community.