The state’s leading authority on juvenile justice says he would like to see status offenders kept out of incarceration facilities. A status offense is something a youth gets in legal trouble for, but an adult wouldn’t. Common status offenses are running away from home or skipping school. Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Hasan Davis says he believes status offenders shouldn’t be held in a detention center for minor offenses.
“And the truth is, we have had young people who have spent up to 90 days, locked behind bars, because they have made some adult angry,” he says.
Davis is part of a task force that’s considering possible changes to the juvenile penal code. The reforms could be introduced as a bill as soon as the next legislative session, and Davis says the treatment of status offenders is a major issue.
The discussion was part of a broad forum sponsored by Kentucky Youth Advocates. The panel also focused on reforms Texas made to their juvenile justice programs, as well as what other states are doing.
But Davis did say the task force is slowly starting to focus in on agreement points between all interested parties.