A Kentucky judge has struck down “emergency” regulations state juvenile justice authorities are using to confine more juvenile offenders in youth centers, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Franklin Circuit Judge William Graham warned juvenile justice officials not to use regulations to “fill beds” at such centers, calling that a “bureaucratic sin.” Said the judge: “I do not want you to lose track of the fact that you have been directed by the legislature to place these juveniles in an environment that is the least restrictive to their treatment.”
Juvenile Justice Commissioner Bridget Skaggs Brown defended the regulations and said her department will appeal the ruling. The Juvenile Justice Department has about 440 youths at its residential centers and supervises about 1,000 more in the community or on probation. Gail Robinson, an assistant public advocate, said too many youths are being sent to one of the state’s 12 residential centers instead of receiving “less restrictive” placements, such as foster care or supervision at home. Brown said the department tries to place youths in the most appropriate setting and rejected the notion that it is trying to fill beds. She said community placements such as private children’s centers or foster care are scarce, and juvenile justice has to compete with authorities seeking places for abused or neglected children.