Last month, Travis Ballard, 17, shot and killed Louisville police officer Peter Grignon and himself. The loss of life might have been avoided, some suggest, if officials had pulled together Ballard’s extensive criminal and psychiatric record — spread through juvenile and adult courts in Kentucky and Indiana — and gotten him off the streets, says the Louisville Courier-Journal. Juvenile court records obtained by the Courier-Journal show many opportunities for officials to place Ballard in custody — and sometimes, they did. Despite a history of violating probation, bond, and home incarceration, Ballard was repeatedly allowed to remain free over his five years in the criminal justice system.
Each time he hit the streets, Ballard followed a predictable pattern. Between ages 12 and 17, he was charged with 36 offenses. “It paints a pretty bleak picture of both the juvenile and the adult systems’ ability to communicate with each other in Kentucky and Indiana,” said David Richart of the National Institute on Children, Youth and Families in Louisville.”This kid was like a classic, escalating criminal in the making.” Ballard’s aunt, Mary Allen, wonders if the social service, mental health and juvenile justice systems are simply too overloaded and disjointed.