Sweeping changes coming to Ky. juvenile justice system

The Adair Regional Detention Center in Columbia, Ky.
The Adair Regional Detention Center in Columbia, Ky.(Source: WAVE News)
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 5:47 AM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Sweeping changes are coming to Kentucky’s juvenile justice system. Gov. Andy Beshear made this announcement on Thursday to address safety and staffing shortages.

Some of the major changes include substantial security upgrades to the detention centers, increased visitor screening, and trying to prevent drugs from making it into the centers.

There is also a new director of security, Larry Chandler, who’s previously been the warden of six Kentucky prisons.

More changes announced were a pay raise for juvenile justice workers, they’ll now be reclassified as corrections officers with a starting salary of $50,000 a year. Corrections officers will now be armed with “defensive equipment,” which are not guns but pepper spray.

Beshear said there will be tasers available, but they’re still working on when and where they’ll actually be carried.

“Right now when we have a major incident all they can do is lockdown,” Beshear said. “Possibly not even intercede when there is a violent altercation because they don’t have the ability to do so safely. And wait for state police or others to arrive.”

These issues likely sound familiar to you because our WAVE Troubleshooters have been investigating them for months at the centers in Lyndon and Adair County. We’ve exposed riots, assaults on both teens and staff, and the alleged rape of a detainee.

Beshear hasn’t offered a specific price tag, but he said this plan is expensive and necessary.