With committee meetings and several policy meetings, it was another busy week in Frankfort. As co-chair of the Task Force on the Unified Juvenile Code, we have begun meeting to review the Unified Juvenile Code – the statutes under which juveniles are charged and judged – along with other statutes impacting the juvenile justice system and consider what changes may be needed to safeguard our communities and improve how we address the needs of troubled juveniles. The study group includes legislators, judges, school representatives, and county officials, all of whom are concerned with efficient operation of the juvenile justice system which should provide treatment and rehabilitation while not compromising public safety. Issues emerging in the first meeting included efficient use of court resources, determination of court jurisdiction, detention, and school/court coordination regarding habitual truancy. We heard from Northern Kentucky District Judge Karen Thomas about an innovative and cost-saving pilot project that resolved juvenile issues without the need to proceed to full-blown court hearings. A final report which will hopefully recommend statutory changes that will better serve the children and the public is due before the 2013 Session.
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