Juvenile justice bill sponsored by Westerfield heading to governor's desk

Posted on April 14, 2014 10:33 PM

The General Assembly passed a measure Monday that would update the state’s juvenile justice system. Senate Bill 200, sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, is the result of work by the bi-partisan Unified Juvenile Code Task Force. 

It would increase and strengthen evidence-based early intervention programs and services provided to offenders of certain non-violent crimes, such as truancy.  It would also increase education and training of certain employees in the juvenile justice system.

SB 200 would require data collection and reporting to measure the effectiveness of programs and policies, and would create a committee to oversee implementation of the legislation, monitor effectiveness and make recommendations for improvements based on outcomes.

According to Westerfield, the measure could save $24 million in the next five years.  It would also help identify and address underlying issues facing juvenile offenders, he said. “It is a step towards getting better outcomes for our kids and doing so for less taxpayer money,” Westerfield said.

Changes made to the bill by the House include provisions that would allow school boards to collaborate with stakeholders in identifying and using truancy diversion and other early intervention programs.  House changes would also increase reporting requirements of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and Administrative Office of the Courts to the Juvenile Justice Oversight Council. The amended measure cleared the House by an 84-15 vote on March 27.  The Senate passed the bill 30-8 Monday.

Senate Bill 200 now goes to the Gov. Steve Beshear’s desk.

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