Enhancing the safety and security of youth and staff
FRANFORT, Ky. (Feb. 23, 2023) – The Beshear-Coleman administration has developed a solid, aggressive plan to improve the juvenile justice system and increase retention and recruitment of security personnel at Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities.
In February, Gov. Andy Beshear raised detention center youth workers' salaries to a minimum of $50,000 annually and reclassified the position title to correctional officer. Today, DJJ announced that 59 individuals have graduated the training academy and reported to their assigned facility. Another 22 individuals began the training academy on Feb. 20 and are expected to graduate March 17.
“A core component of ensuring safety is having enough qualified, trained individuals on duty, and we are excited to welcome these new team members to the juvenile justice team," said Gov. Beshear. “Our youth deserve a Kentucky that will fight for them so they can achieve a second chance and a brighter future. I pledge to always do the right thing for the betterment of our youth, and our staff who are committed to doing this essential job."
DJJ's training academy includes six-weeks, 128 hours of instruction focused on a variety of topics including cultural diversity/implicit bias, mental health training, crisis prevention, de-escalation techniques, conflict resolution, riot and hostage situations, searches and contraband, report of abuse and neglect, fire safety, suicide prevention, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, report writing and observation skills, health services protocols, behavior management and legal issues. The academy also includes two weeks of on-the-job training.
“I am unaware of any administration that has done more for the staff of DJJ than the Beshear-Coleman administration, and because of their support staff vacancies numbers which have been increasing since 2015 are starting to finally decrease," said DJJ Commissioner Vicki Reed. “DJJ will continue to do the best we can do for every kid who comes into custody to prevent them from returning, and with our new staff members we will be able to increase programming and other vital services."
On Feb. 9, the Governor announced that due to critical staffing issues at DJJ, KSP had assigned two uniformed troopers 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Adair, Fayette and Warren Juvenile Detention Centers, and more than 30 correctional officers and probation and parole officers from the Department of Corrections have volunteered to assist Campbell Juvenile Detention Center until it is fully staffed.
As the Governor and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey have previously said, robust and effective changes to the juvenile justice system require policy, budgetary and legislative action. The administration presented its juvenile justice legislative request to the General Assembly on Feb. 14. Yesterday, House Bill 591 encompassing the statutory changes required to allow juveniles to qualify for bail and removing status offenders and Class B misdemeanants from detention, even for a violation of court orders, and the budgetary requests were filed by Rep. Derrick Graham of Franklin. Once the General Assembly passes HB 591, DJJ facilities will be far safer for youth and staff.
The 81 new correctional officers and youth workers have been hired for the following DJJ facilities:
- Adair Juvenile Detention Center – 19
- Ashland Day Treatment Center – 2
- Ashland Group Home – 1
- Boyd Juvenile Detention Center – 3
- Breathitt Juvenile Detention Center – 6
- Campbell Juvenile Detention Center – 7
- Christian Co. Day Treatment Center – 1
- Fayette Juvenile Detention Center – 11
- Frankfort Group Home – 1
- Frenchburg Group Home – 1
- Hopkinsville Group Home – 1
- Jefferson Juvenile Detention Center – 4
- Lake Cumberland Youth Development Center - 1
- London Group Home – 1
- McCracken Juvenile Detention Center – 6
- Middlesboro Group Home – 1
- Morehead Youth Development Center – 4
- Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center – 2
- Warren Juvenile Detention Center – 5
- Woodsbend Youth Development Center – 4
DJJ continues to recruit for 103 correctional officers and 30 youth workers across its 24 facilities. To apply for a career with DJJ visit the Kentucky Personnel's Cabinet website.