Troubleshooters: Leader of embattled juvenile detention centers retires

(Action News 5)
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The head of Kentucky’s embattled Department of Juvenile Justice has announced she is stepping down.

Commissioner Vicki Reed’s retirement is effective January 1, 2024, the Justice Cabinet confirmed.

Her boss, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Secretary Kerry Harvey, commended her experience and commitment in a statement.

“Our youth and staff were fortunate to have her leadership, and we appreciate her service to the commonwealth,” Harvey wrote. “We wish her the best of luck in her retirement.”

A number of legislators had repeatedly asked for Governor Andy Beshear to fire Reed amid serious allegations of abuse and neglect across several of the state’s juvenile detention facilities.

The claims were first exposed in a series of Troubleshooter investigations which began in August 2022 with out-of-control riots at the detention facility in Jefferson County. Employees there told us children were being locked in the cells for days at a time without showers, schooling, or counseling.

The issues were similar at the Adair County Juvenile Detention Center. Allegations of physical abuse, rape during a riot, and children not being fed or allowed out of their cells for weeks.

The reporting continued to expose even more problems at the facility in Campbell County, KY. Troubleshooters uncovered sexual abuse claims against a corrections officer that were not addressed or reported to law enforcement for weeks. It was also found that several employees knew about the claims, including an investigator with the Cabinet’s Internal Bureau of Investigations prior to the date reported to legislators.

Reed has testified before the Legislative Oversight and Accountability Committee numerous times about the problems. She and Harvey attributed the problems to a lack of staffing.

Beshear implemented a number of changes to improve the department’s conditions.

“Commissioner Vicki Reed’s vast experience in juvenile justice matters and her complete commitment to the youth in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s care have been vital in implementing long overdue positive changes in the department,” Harvey wrote.

The Department is now looking for a new Commissioner to take over. Interested candidates should apply by clicking here.