BY EVA MCKEND | KENTUCKY
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisville lawmakers are working to turn over responsibility of holding incarcerated juveniles to the state. The two sides are negotiating the terms of the city’s exit strategy.
“It would not be feasible for us to take over the system, the actual physical plant that exists at JCYC,” said John Tilley, Justice and Public Safety Secretary.
The key players, like Tilley and city officials, seem to agree on a number of issues. They don’t like that incarcerated teens in Louisville are more than 90% African American. They believe it is due to disproportionate contact with law enforcement.
They are also of the same mind when it comes to implementing more policies to divert young people from spending time in detention all together.
“This could be an opportunity for us to capitalize on using the best of what we know works, what’s working in Louisville, what’s working around the state to keep our population down,” Tilley said.
Currently, there’s still no clear off-ramp. The city has moved to turn over Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services to the state by the end of the year. State lawmakers are demanding more clarity and don’t want vulnerable Louisville teenagers shipped to far corners of the state.
“I’m not going to give anybody support at this point because I want these kids in Louisville. That’s what we are demanding. That’s what best for these kids and this is a budget subcommittee meeting. When we draft our budget in the coming year, we are going to demand that these kids stay in Louisville,” said Republican Rep. Jason Nemes of Louisville.
Since criminal justice reforms have been enacted, the average daily population of incarcerated youth in Louisville is around 44. It used to be more than 60. If the stakeholders can’t come up with a long term solution, Rep. Nemes says they should settle on a short term fix.
“It seems to me that it is a reasonable option to have the state come and pay for the city to continue its services while we come up with an alternative,” said Nemes.
Tilley says there should be a plan in place by October.