Juvenile Treatment Court program coming to Fayette County

Judge Melissa Moore Murphy says the program may begin as early as December or January.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A new program is coming to Fayette County for kids in the court system.

The program is called Juvenile Treatment Court, and focuses on providing mental health counseling and other resources.

According to Judge Murphy, many of the kids in the Fayette County court system have experienced some form of trauma.

“We’ve also seen some of our children who have experienced just an onset of a traumatic experience. We have to deal with the fact that we’ve seen a rise in violent crimes that relate to our children. Or, their friends have been shot, or their friends have been killed. And I know Judge Thurston thinks the same way as I do, but when we were in high school and middle school, we didn’t deal with that,” said Judge Murphy.

However, Judge Murphy says she wants participation in the program to be the young adult’s choice.

“We don’t want to say, ‘hey, you’re in this program because you have had a traumatic experience.’ We want them to want to do this. But we also have to show them that talking about mental health, dealing with any mental crisis you might be going through, isn’t a shameful thing,” said Judge Murphy.

The project, spearheaded by Judges Lindsay Hughes-Thurston and Melissa Moore Murphy, is partnered with Fayette County Public Schools.

“We’re trying to be proactive by meeting them where their needs are in the school system before they make it to court. And once they make it to court, what are those needs we can meet to ensure they don’t come back,” said Judge Murphy.

The program is intended to give kids who have committed non-violent crimes a new lease on life.

“One of the main crimes we’re seeing is possession of a handgun by a minor, we’re seeing lots of possession of drug charges, we’re seeing assaults,” said Judge Murphy.

Juvenile Treatment Court was presented to the Urban County Council Social Services Committee last week.

“I think we’ve seen in the community, especially over the past year, just the rise of juvenile crime and even violent crime and crimes committed with guns. And it’s been really concerning to me and a lot of my constituents,” said Councilmember Jennifer Reynolds.

The Council is stressing the importance of mentoring within the program amidst rising juvenile crime.

“As Councilmember Brown talked about, mentorship. That would be a great opportunity to sustain what they had learned and what they know,” said Councilmember Kathy Plomin.

According to Judge Murphy, Juvenile Treatment Court has four steps to complete, and intends to surround kids with mentors, counseling, and other resources to set them up for success.

“What are those skills that we can sit down with you to help you fill out a job application? Those necessary steps. That seems very minor, but a lot of those issues are things that we need to address to make sure we’re pushing them. We want them to succeed,” said Judge Murphy.

According to Judge Murphy, the program could start as soon as December or January.

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