Secretary Kerry Harvey says changes to Kentucky’s DJJ system need time

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — Following proposed changes, questions linger over the states juvenile justice system, after alleged incidents of assault and sexual assault riots, Governor Andy Beshear proposing immediate changes to help alleviate the issues.

“The changes that we’re implementing now, and the governor’s plan will do more to provide safer, more secure facilities than anything that’s been done in the last 20 years,” says Kerry Harvey, the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, about the proposed changes.

Also adding that, “Governor Beshear, in his first two budgets, proposed very modest compensation enhancements for these workers and other public workers that the legislature declined to find. So the governor now on his own, and in this last budget, with the help of the legislature, has enabled us to be better positioned to hire the staff we need. We’re also better equipping our staff.”

Among the proposed changes, males are now separated by security level, based on the severity of the offense, raising compensation to recruit and retain workers, and hiring a new director of security.

“Our youth workers here to four, have had no defensive equipment whatsoever, not even pepper spray. So when they’ve been subjected to attack by what are sometimes violent use, they really have very little in the way of defensive mechanisms, we’re changing that. We are also providing much better training for our youth workers now,” also said Harvey.

But some like Senator Whitney Westerfield call the changes a bandaid solution and say the real issues aren’t being tackled.

Harvey says one of the main issues has always been the pay for youth workers, a problem the governor is tackling with the new proposal.

“We’re funding those pay increases out of existing resources. But the governor and all of us in this administration certainly support races across the board, for workers in the Department of Juvenile Justice,” he said.

Also sending a message to those concerned with their safety if they were to become DJJ workers, so what the governor is doing is bringing the Department of Juvenile Justice and its detention system into the modern era and enabling us to operate safe and secure facility so that we can do what we all want to do the most and that is to improve the lot of these youth who come into our custody,” he also said.

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