House committee OKs measures protecting kids’ interests.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Action by the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday drew praise from a leading youth advocacy group in the state.

With passage of Senate Bill 36 by the House Judiciary Committee, Kentucky is a step closer to a more efficient and effective juvenile justice system that holds kids accountable, helps them grow up to become contributing members of their community, and increases public safety, said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates.

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SB 36, sponsored by Sen. Whitney Westerfield, seeks to expand court discretion when determining the transfer of youth to adult court for certain offenses.

This measure will allow for speedier trials, more cost-effective and developmentally appropriate responses, and better access to rehabilitative supports and services for young people who get in trouble.

Passage is more important than ever as youth of color continue to be over-represented in the juvenile justice system at all points due, in part, to factors like mandatory policies that focus on toughness rather than what works to keep youth from committing an offense in the future, Brooks said.

he House Judiciary Committee also approved HB 472, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Bechler.

“The data tells us that one in four girls and one in thirteen boys will experience sexual abuse at some point in their childhood, and there are numerous, complex reasons that some children don’t disclose their abuse right away. HB 472 gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to have their voice heard and for their perpetrator to be held accountable,” said Brooks.

HB 472 seeks to extend the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex offenses involving minors from five years after their 18th birthday to 10 years.

“Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are counting on the Kentucky General Assembly to enact HB 472 to accommodate for those incidences of delayed disclosure. Shame and fear can keep individuals from sharing about the abuse. This measure empowers them to come forward and seek justice, and potentially prevent or end abuse for another child,” said Keith Inman, president of Kosair Charities, which founded and supports the Face It Movement.