The Community Voice reached out to Morgan Hall, communications director with the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, twice by email and once by phone during this week’s investigation into Friday’s incident at the Adair Youth Development Center. On Tuesday night, an email was sent asking for comment in reference to allegations that the Adair County facility has become unsafe for workers and that juveniles are treated inhumanely. Those allegations include a lock-down that has gone on for months and youth rarely leaving their cells, rarely getting baths, and educational and other services being all but eliminated. The following response was received from Hall by email right at presstime. The email is published in its entirety:
FROM MORGAN HALL:
“KSP is investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred on Friday evening after a juvenile seriously assaulted a staff member, confiscated the staff member’s keys and released other juveniles from their cells at Adair Regional Detention Center. The alleged victim was housed in a separate secure wing. Once KSP concludes its investigation and presents the findings, charges will be sought. The victim has been transferred to another DJJ facility and counselor services are being provided.
“DJJ is conducting a thorough review and corrective action will be taken. Specific details and timelines of the riot cannot be confirmed until the investigation is complete.
“Youth are isolated at times due to violent behavior, assaults or threats made to staff or not following orders. However, they still have access to a shower, meals and hygiene during isolation. DJJ policy states that isolation times may not exceed 48 hours unless approved by the division director after consultation with the Chief of Mental Health Services. Again, an extension of isolation would only be approved if the youth was exhibiting violent behavior, harmful to themselves or others, or threatening staff or other juveniles.
“Adair Juvenile Detention Center is operating under controlled confinement, which means that the movement of youth throughout the building is limited. Therefore, some of the programming is temporarily halted. However, juveniles continue to receive showers, meals and basic hygiene needs. The facility is operating under controlled confinement due to increased youth population, staff shortages and violent behavior from the youth.
“DJJ is experiencing critical staff shortages across the department. Adair Juvenile Detention Center has a total of 19 vacancies. Recently, DJJ raised the salary for youth workers to the midpoint and increased the hourly rate for locality and shift premiums for facilities located in specific counties to better help recruit and retain. This is the third effort to address youth worker compensation in a year. In December, Gov. Beshear approved a 10% raise for all security positions at DJJ, and in July, the enacted budget provided an 8% increase for all state employees.
“As of November 13 there were 62 juveniles being held at the Adair Juvenile Detention Center. Of which, 25 have been classified as youthful offenders, which means the Court has determined that they will be tried as adults on the following charges:
- Wanton Endangerment
- Possession of a handgun
- Assault 2nd with a firearm
“Please note these numbers are fluid and change often as youth are convicted, released and/or new intakes arrive.”
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