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'We're getting tired of the crime': Juvenile justice bill to head back to Frankfort

The bill would force young people accused of violent crimes to go before a judge, hold parents responsible and invest $6.5 million into the Youth Detention Center.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Teenagers in Kentuckiana have often been the suspects of violent crimes – from carjacking, to arson, to murder.

A bill that aims to crack down on juvenile crime in Kentucky is once again heading to Frankfort for consideration in the upcoming session, and parents could also be held responsible.

Republican State Representative Kevin Bratcher, the bill’s sponsor, said youth crime is out of control.

“We're serious about crime, and we're getting tired of the crime that's happening all across the country, but especially Kentucky and Louisville,” he said.

The bill failed in the Senate earlier in 2022.

It would force young people accused of violent crimes to go before a judge before they are released.

“Kids are doing some bad things, and they're right back in the community the next day," Bratcher said.

The bill would also hold parents responsible if they are found not cooperating with their child's personalized diversion program. Bratcher said the plans almost always address truancy.

“It's really time to get, tell parents to start taking care of their children,” he said.

WHAS11 also asked Bratcher about parents who feel their hands are tied, and they can’t force their child to attend school.

“We're not trying to capture parents,” Bratcher responded. “We're trying to capture bad parents that are not supporting their children.”

There was pushback when the bill was presented.

Christopher 2x, founder of GameChangers, an organization that mentors kids as young as 4 years old, said it's important to consider the factors that lead to youth crime before attempting to legislate the problem away.

“There's these underlying issues where kids are just subjected to just being in dire poverty,” he said. “People don't understand the total backstories connected to that kid, and so I would always caution anyone, whether it be politicians or anybody, that there are some serious underlying issues.”

2x said while laws are needed, the only thing that will truly make a dent in stopping youth crime is early intervention.

“You can come up with bills to try to harshen the laws, but at the end of the day, how hard are we really, really trying to deal with the symptoms that lead to these kids going down a wrong pathway,” he asked.

The bill would also allocate $6.5 million to create 40 beds at the Jefferson County Youth Detention Center in downtown Louisville and provide outpatient therapy.

This bill has not yet been filed, but Bratcher said it will be ready for the upcoming session in Frankfort happening in January.

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