It appears as though Kentucky is finally catching on…putting kids in jail does not help them. That is why the state is planning to implement a plan next year that will put troubled youth into diversion programs rather than locking them up over minor “status offenses.”

Kentucky has been considered one of the highest ranking states in the nation for incarcerating young people for skipping school and running away from home. In fact, the state jailed about 1,125 youth offenders for this type of uncontrollable behavior last year. However, the state intends to do away with this philosophy and exercise resources that will allow teens to remain at home…and out of cages with actual criminals.

In addition, state lawmakers plan to remove jail time penalties for children who commit minor offenses, a plan they expect with save the state $24 million over the course of the next five years.

"For some kids, you need to have a softer touch," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Whitney Westerfield. "Instead of just locking them up and putting them in that environment, perhaps what they need is a mentor."

This plan is the result of Senate Bill 200, which was passed recently in the 2014 General Assembly. Once it goes into effect, it will expand on the juvenile system and give offenders more of an opportunity to be put into community service programs rather than incarceration.

Minors will no longer be committed to state custody for misdemeanors and class D felonies… unless the charges involve weapons, sexual offenses, or the youth has a history of criminal activity.

The ultimate goal is to promote better outcomes for children getting into trouble over issues related to poverty, substance abuse, and troubles at home.

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