Sen. Westerfield says changes to DJJ seem like a bandaid, says more needs to be done

Westerfield adds that morale needs to also be a priority

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) —  In December,  we spoke with Kerry Harvey, the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet,  about several reported issues and incidents within the juvenile system.
After the last interim joint committee meeting of the judiciary, Senator Whitney Westerfield said told us the changes that were made helped but were too little, too late.

On Thursday, Governor Andy Beshear announced changes that have gone into effect as well as transformation in other areas of the department.

“I think it is a band aid, again I appreciate the effort to try to do something. But it’s, it’s wrong footed to do it only to part of the agency, when the whole agency is suffering,” said Sen. Westerfield, about the proposed changes.

Back in December, the Interim Joint Committee of the Judiciary met to discuss issues within the department of juvenile justice. at the time, Senator Whitney Westerfield alongside other members of the legislative branch questioned Secretary Kerry Harvey.

“You can’t just fix this part. When morale is a problem across the board, we talked about this at the December 15, judiciary committee meeting, one of the problems is departmental morale, department wide,” added Westerfield.

The governor proposing higher pay for those working at the facilities.

The senator calls it a step in the right direction but, “I’m glad that you’re raising this, this pay, I think that’s good, but you’ve got to do it for all of them. You can’t afford to not do it for the whole agency, the whole agency is in trouble. And I appreciate you wanting to put this fire out, but you’re going to throw gasoline on this one over here. I’d be the first vote to give the whole agency a huge boost in the budget to get them up and have all of them earning more so that they’re all incentivized to do great work and continue to great do great work, including new hires that we can bring in which we desperately need.”

Senator Westerfield also sending a stern message to the governor, “listen to the people in the front-line of the agency. But most importantly, I’d also tell him, you can’t just do this on one part of that agency.”

And for those who may be considering applying to become a DJJ worker, “consider it but only because we’re going to make some changes, we’re going to try our best to make changes to address a lot of the structural failings within that system right now,” said Westerfield.

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