Teens moved out of juvenile detention center over fire hazard

The facility housed teens mostly accused of violent crimes.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 4:52 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The detainees at the embattled Jefferson Regional Juvenile Detention Center were removed from the facility late Wednesday evening, WAVE News Troubleshooters have learned. According to sources, the Kentucky State Fire Marshal’s office made the call after learning the magnetic doors at the facility may not open in case of a fire.

The teens housed there are mostly accused of violent crimes. They were removed from the facility in Lyndon after 7 p.m. They have been transported to other state facilities, the Justice Cabinet told WAVE News.

The detention center has been at the center of a series of exclusive Troubleshooter investigations, exposing the dangerous conditions there for both the teens and the staff working there.

WAVE News exposed a series of riots, severe understaffing, assaults between teens and on staff that had previously not come to light. According to multiple independent sources, the conditions for the teens were of concern. Several courses confirmed that teens were not being allowed to shower for fear of another riot and male and female teens having sex while being housed in the same units. There were also reports of co-defendants being held in the same units too.

Others told WAVE News about incident reports being altered and narratives changed well after the incident date. They also spoke of employees forced to sign off on documents they did not write.

The State’s Legislative Oversight and Investigations Committee has now opened its own investigation. They are now taking a look at the problems and asking questions about possible violations of not only policy, but law.

During a hearing the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary, Kerry Harvey admitted there were serious problems at the facility, mainly because of a lack of staff. Harvey openly spoke about previous riots which included teens setting fires in the facility after breaking out of their dorms.

Harvey immediately lowered the number of teens being held there, which was previously more than double the intended capacity.

There is a current proposal to reopen the Juvenile Detention Center in downtown Louisville with $6.5 million in state funds.

A spokesperson for the Justice & Public Safety Cabinet sent the following statement to WAVE:

“Yesterday, DJJ facilities management performed a test fire alarm at the Jefferson Regional Juvenile Detention Center. The test raised questions about the functionality of the system. DJJ relocated the youth to other regional detention centers.”