Unified Juvenile Code Task Force recommends early intervention to help offenders

12/19/2013 09:49 PM

Getting juvenile offenders, who have committed minor crimes, out of incarceration with higher-level offenders and into strengthened early intervention and prevention programs
is the focus of recommendations approved on Thursday by the Unified Juvenile Code Task Force.

The recommendations of the task force are grouped into four categories:

*Focus resources, particularly expensive out-of-home facilities, on higher-level offenders
and reinvest savings into strengthening early intervention and prevention programs.

*Increase effectiveness of juvenile justice programs and services.

*Improve government performance by providing oversight of reform implementation, tracking performance measures, and maximizing federal resources.

*Reinvest savings to provide for sustained funding, expand community services, and improve supervision.

“The idea is to do more sooner, so we don’t have to spend as much time on the back end repairing the harm that the system has done,” said Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner, Hasan Davis, a member of the task force.

Republican Co-Chair, Sen. Whitney Westerfield of Hopkinsville thinks that the proposal gets to the heart of the problem which he says has been the state putting too many juvenile offfenders in a system where they aren’t effectively rehabilitated.

“Right now, we’re incarcerating them when we shouldn’t. We are taking them form whatever positive influences that they do have or they could have in life and putting them in with kids, who, we all agree, need to be in detention,” Westerfield said.

Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, thinks that a bill drafted with the recommendations of the task force has an excellent chance of becoming law during the upcoming 2014 session.

Members agreed that the recommendations will improve public safety, hold offenders accountable, improve outcomes for children and families, and control costs in the juvenile justice system.


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