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Gov. Beshear, Department of Juvenile Justice Reopen Mayfield Youth Development Center to Kentucky’s Youth

Facility reopens after experiencing extensive damage from December 2021 tornadoes

MAYFIELD, Ky. (July 12, 2022) – In December 2021, Western Kentucky was impacted by the deadliest tornadoes and severe weather system in the commonwealth's history. The Beshear-Coleman administration has remained committed to helping the communities, individual Kentuckians and their families rebuild from the devastating tornadoes. Today, Gov. Andy Beshear reopened the doors to another vital piece of critically damaged state infrastructure as part of continued rebuilding efforts.

After more than 6 months of intense rebuilding, the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Mayfield Youth Development Center located in Graves Co. reopens its doors to one of Kentucky's most vulnerable populations, youth between the ages of 14 and 18 who have been adjudicated as public and youthful offenders.

“The December tornadoes devastated the Western Kentucky region, creating many hardships and pain, but in the response we have found hope and strength," said Gov. Beshear. “I commend the DJJ staff for putting their lives at risk on that dark, devasting night to save Kentucky's future leaders. To all the youth housed here in Mayfield and around the commonwealth, hear me when I say, your past does not dictate your future."

On the night of Dec. 10, 2021, the Mayfield Youth Development Center lost power, water, internet and suffered severe structural damage to the roof, busted water pipes, collapsed walls and broken floors. Additionally, the facility lost several metal outbuildings that were picked up and carried away by the tornadoes.

“Kentucky is nationally known for our system of small treatment-orientated juvenile facilities, and the deadly tornadoes in December proved this even further with how quickly our staff responded to protect our children – all while fearing for their own homes and families," said DJJ Commissioner Vicki Reed. “Our staff are true heroes and should be recognized as such. And not just for that night, but for what they do for our youth each and every day.  . At DJJ, we believe what is good for kids is good for communities. And we look forward to continuing our positive relationship with the community of Mayfield."

The majority of DJJ Youth Development Centers are campus-type settings with the capacity to house up to 45 youth per center while monitoring youths' activities 24-hours per day, seven days per week.

DJJ operates seven youth development centers throughout the state and attempts to place youth at the facility closest to home. This helps facilitate family visiting and counseling, as well as successful reentry back into their home, school and community. All facilities provide the youth with educational alternatives, such as earning a high school diploma and completing the GED track, as well as obtaining a vocational certificate. Additionally, youth are able to receive college credit through the virtual university program. In May, DJJ held a commencement ceremony to celebrate 48 youth receiving their high school diplomas for the 2021-2022 academic year and an additional 9 youth for earning their GED. In addition, DJJ offers programming focused on substance abuse, anger management, recreation, parenting classes and independent living classes.

During today's ribbon cutting ceremony, Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Deputy Secretary Keith Jackson reiterated the importance of Kentucky's youth having access to critical services so that not only do the youth not return to DJJ, they become a more productive citizen, able to enter the workforce and support their own families in the future.

“The work and care provided by DJJ staff are key to creating a better and safer Kentucky," said Deputy Secretary Jackson. “By ensuring these youth have access to educational and vocational programming, substance abuse treatment and staff psychologists allows them to continue to grow and contribute to their communities in meaningful ways. In the same meaningful ways as their neighbors, relatives, church members, friends – they are kids just like all kids in Kentucky and should be cared for as such."

Mayfield Youth Development Center's Superintendent Larry Jackson said the facility is back in business and, starting tomorrow, newly committed or sentenced youth will once again have the option of being placed at this facility.

“We look forward to once again providing optimal care for the youth of Kentucky. They have faced enough challenges and disruptions in their lives and deserve a return to stability," said Superintendent Jackson. “Our staff are some of the best and I could not do this job without them. Let's open these doors and get back to serving the commonwealth and tomorrow's future leaders."

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

Recently, the Governor announced an increase in the funding from the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund to the Graves County Grain Assistance Program.

The Graves County Grain Assistance Program was established when the administration was contacted by Graves County Judge/Executive Jesse Perry and local farmers. The group was concerned about the potential loss of crop yield and sought assistance for local farmers, who are an important part of ensuring the state has an ample grain supply.

Kentucky farmers who conduct business with Mayfield Grain Co. can get more information and apply for assistance here.

Over 150,000 individuals and organizations from all over the world have contributed to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, raising nearly $52 million to assist in long-term recovery.

To date, more than $26.8 million has been distributed from the fund to individual Kentuckians and families as they rebuild from the devastating December 2021 tornadoes. This includes funeral expenses to the families of the deceased, payments to insured and uninsured homeowners and renters and funds to build 300 homes through the help of Homes and Hope for Kentucky, Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center on Housing.

Donations to the fund are still being accepted. All donations to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund are tax-deductible and donors will receive a receipt for tax purposes after donating. To contribute, visit the Team Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund online here.

To see photos from today’s event, click here. Credit – Department of Juvenile Justice’s Communications Office