• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Kentucky legislature moves forward with plans for mental health juvenile detention facility

Byeditor

Mar 27, 2024

A bill has been moved forward by a Kentucky House committee that would establish a special mental health juvenile detention facility for housing “high acuity” youth. The sponsor, Sen. Danny Carroll, emphasized the importance of this bill, calling it a critical move. Senate Bill 252 has already passed the Senate and can now go to the full House for consideration.

As Wednesday marks the 57th day of the 60-day legislative session, time is running out for the bill to become law. The legislature must pass bills by Friday in order to preserve their right to override a potential veto by Gov. Andy Beshear. Under Carroll’s bill, Kentucky would begin operating two female detention centers by Feb. 1, 2026 – one in Central Kentucky and one in the western part of the state. A third facility could be built if the first two reach capacity.

Additionally, Kentucky would also build a 16-bed acute mental health facility designed to house juveniles in need of specialized treatment for aggression, violence, or property destruction. The Department of Juvenile Justice would own and staff the facility, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services partnering to provide appropriate mental health treatment.

While the General Assembly’s two-year budget is not yet final, the Senate budget included funding for each of the female-only facilities and the mental health facility. Senator Carroll had requested more funding for the mental health facility, but the final budget allocation remains uncertain. Carroll stressed the urgency of establishing a mental health facility for youth in the justice system, emphasizing the need to act promptly. He stated that delaying this initiative would result in at least four years before addressing the issue, which he deemed as unacceptable.

By editor

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