FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that the resignation of the state’s juvenile justice director is pending, but a series of policy actions over the past year have put the matter in perspective. He said that it has created a “good roadmap” for the agency.
The governor said at a news conference that Juvenile Justice Commissioner Vicki Reed has submitted her resignation early next year. Mr. Reed has become a lightning rod for criticism as the state-run system struggles to quell riots in some juvenile detention facilities. The governor on Thursday called for a coordinated effort with the state Legislature to continue to address the agency’s problems.
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The Democratic governor, who just won re-election last week, offered an upbeat message about the Bluegrass State’s future for further economic gains. He began his press conference as usual by announcing the latest economic development projects undertaken by the state.
“This is certainly the brightest, most optimistic opportunity I’ve ever seen in my life, and it’s encouraging all of us, right and left, to see where we can go as a state.” Instead, we can move forward together,” the governor said. He said.
Mr. Beshear also announced the resignation of several senior government officials as he prepares for his second four-year term. Some degree of personnel turnover is typical, as governors shift from their first term to their second term, or as some officials seek new opportunities.
In another notable resignation, the governor announced that Jeremy Slinker will resign as director of the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency and move to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. He praised Slinker as a “tireless worker” who was responsible for the devastating tornadoes that struck parts of western Kentucky in late 2021 and the subsequent massive flooding that inundated parts of eastern Kentucky. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner” in dealing with the aftermath, he said. In 2022.
But the biggest shock was the announcement that Mr. Reed would be leaving the Department of Juvenile Justice. The agency has undergone multiple leadership changes in recent years, and Reed was hired by Beshear as commissioner in 2021. The state has already begun searching for her replacement.
“I thank her for her efforts in helping us overcome existing challenges and create the most significant changes since DJJ’s founding,” Beshear said. “I know it wasn’t easy for Vicki Reed to advance, but she shows up every day and tries to do her best and I appreciate that.”
Kentucky’s juvenile justice system is struggling to accommodate the growing number of young people accused of violent crimes. The result was a series of assaults, riots, and escapes.
A riot broke out at the detention center last year, injuring young people and staff. Order was restored after state police and other law enforcement officers entered the facility. In another incident, some boys kicked and punched staff during an assault at another center.
Beshear responded with a series of policy changes to quell the violence. He announced that male juveniles would be assigned to facilities depending on the severity of their crimes, and that detention center staff would be provided with pepper spray, Tasers and other weapons so they could protect themselves and others if attacked. It was announced that “defensive equipment” had been provided for the first time. The Department of Juvenile Justice hired a security director and increased screening of visitors to prevent drugs and other dangerous substances from entering the detention center.
The state’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill injecting additional funding into the system to overcome chronic problems. The law added stricter rules for young people charged with or convicted of violent crimes. Lawmakers earmarked the money to increase salaries for juvenile justice workers, increase the number of DJJ correctional officers, increase security at jails, and strengthen diversion and treatment services for youth in custody. The spending reflected much of the funding request from the Beshear administration to maintain and hire workers at understaffed facilities.
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“I think we have a good roadmap for DJJ,” Beshear said Thursday when asked about what’s next for the division. “I believe we are already in a better place and on the way to a better situation if we continue to work on the plan in conjunction with the General Assembly.”
The department has faced criticism in recent months for, among other things, improperly sequestering juveniles due to staffing shortages and the misuse of pepper spray by corrections officers, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader, which has reported extensively on the issue. There is.