What happens when Youth Detention Services closes under state control?

200 to be impacted by Youth Detention Center state takeover

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Under the approved Louisville Metro budget, the state will take charge of Youth Detention Services (YDS) at the end of the year.

“Regardless of who has the responsibility, we just need to make sure we do the job well,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said. "And when the state is involved, we’re going to make sure we do it to the best of our ability.”

Giving control to the state will save the city $2.4 million a year, but it also means juveniles charged with crimes could be moved out of the city.

"Cost is unfortunately a real issue here, it’s what caused this vote,” John Tilley, Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Secretary, said.

The state already runs the six regional youth detention centers in Kentucky.

With the state also facing funding issues, Tilley said they can’t afford to pay YDS staff.

“The real issue isn’t the daily reimbursement rate,” Tilley said. "It’s that Louisville, because of the job market here, pays significantly more for staff than we do around the state.”

There are 118 YDS staff positions that will be eliminated with the closure of the facility.

Tilley said the state’s priority is to get better results at a far less cost. While he said there’s no way to get a new local facility up and running by January, ultimately, he wants to keep the youth in Louisville.

“We don’t want to separate youth from their families. We know that’s destructive,” Tilley said. “We want to maintain as much proximity as we can.”

While the kids may have to go to one of the regional facilities, there aren’t any concrete plans yet.

Tilley said they will explore alternatives and innovative solutions.

"If others would step up and help us, whether it be funding or other opportunities, we’ll have all stakeholders at the table and maybe we can avoid this,” Tilley said.

Jean Porter, Director of Communications for Mayor Greg Fischer’s Office, said the mayor was against giving up control of YDS, but he will work with the state.

“The budget approved by Council on Tuesday assumes savings by transferring the majority of YDS’ operations to the state by Dec. 31. The Mayor’s budget plan did not include the YDS shift because we wanted to provide more time to work with the state on a way to keep vulnerable youth close to their families and support networks. Now that the vote is final, Louisville Metro Government will continue working closely and in good faith with the state about next steps. The Mayor and YDS are committed to ensuring a smooth transition for these young people and will work closely with YDS staff as decisions are made.”
Jean Porter, Director of Communications for Mayor Greg Fischer

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