Juanisha Saunders says she has not been able to visit or speak to her teenage son since he was transferred to the Adair County Youth Development Center on Nov. 9, two days before a riot at the facility. Every time she calls the facility, she says they’re either on lockdown or there’s a ‘situation,’ she said,” she said, fighting back tears. Saunders was surrounded by community activists and pastors as she spoke Friday at the former site of Louisville’s juvenile prison, which the city closed in 2019 due to a budget crisis. Andy Beshear, Mayor Greg Fischer and Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg, among others, urged them to reopen the Louisville facility. They also want the state to make it easier for parents to visit in Adair County. The Kentucky State Police are investigating the riots in Adair County, according to a statement from the Kentucky Department of Justice and Public Safety. Lyndon also has a small, temporary juvenile facility, but state lawmakers say they have received complaints of rioting, escapes and abuse of staff there. According to the cabinet, it has now set up a compliance unit that carries out unannounced inspections of facilities. But Saunders and others don’t think Jefferson County children should even be sent to Adair County or Lyndon. “There is a reason this facility was built in the first place,” said Rev. Roosevelt Lightsy of the Community Missionary Baptist Church. “We have special needs that need to be addressed.” Young people who are incarcerated should be as close as possible to family members for support, Lightsy said. The programs there should also be tailored to the needs of the children, and the diversity of the staff should reflect the local population, he said. The closure of Louisville’s juvenile detention center has also led many of the city’s youth to believe there are no consequences for their behavior, said Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville the Lyndon facility or because the police department doesn’t have the resources to deal with them to transport to Adair County, he said. Bratcher said he plans to submit a bill to use state funds to reopen the center as a juvenile detention center and it’s going to be a real mess,” Bratcher said. “Police are asking for it, citizens are asking for it now, everyone is asking for it, so it has to be done .”

Juanisha Saunders says she has not been able to visit or speak to her teenage son since he was transferred to the Adair County Youth Development Center on Nov. 9, two days before a riot at the facility.

Every time she calls the facility, she’s told they’re either on lockdown or there’s a “situation,” she said.

“I pray he can watch TV to see that we’re here and that we love him because the kids can be down there and think they’re forgotten,” she said, fighting back tears.

Saunders was surrounded by community activists and pastors as she spoke Friday at the former site of the Louisville Youth Detention Center, which the city closed in 2019 due to a budget crisis.

The group, known as the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition, sent letters to Governor Andy Beshear, Mayor Greg Fischer and Mayor-elect Craig Greenberg urging them, among other things, to reopen the Louisville facility. They also want the state to facilitate parental visits in Adair County.

According to a statement from the Kentucky Department of Justice and Public Safety, the Kentucky State Police are investigating the Adair County riot.

Lyndon also has a small, temporary juvenile facility, but state lawmakers say they have received complaints of rioting, escapes and abuse of staff there.

According to the cabinet, it has now set up a compliance unit that carries out unannounced inspections of facilities.

But Saunders and others don’t think Jefferson County children should even be sent to Adair County or Lyndon.

“There’s a reason why this facility [the Louisville Youth Detention Center] was built from the beginning,” said Rev. Roosevelt Lightsy of the Community Missionary Baptist Church. “We have special needs that need to be addressed.”

Young people who are incarcerated should be as close as possible to family members for support, Lightsy said. The programs there should also be tailored to the needs of the children, and the diversity of the staff should reflect the local population, he said.

The closure of the Louisville Youth Detention Center has also led many of the city’s youth to believe their behavior has no consequences, said Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-Louisville.

That’s because the LMPD must release young offenders immediately, either because there isn’t room at the Lyndon facility or because the police department doesn’t have the resources to transport them to Adair County, he said.

Bratcher said he plans to submit a bill to reopen the center with state funds.

“Louisville is one of the largest cities in America without a juvenile detention center and it’s going to be really messy,” Bratcher said. “The police are demanding it, the citizens are asking for it now, everyone is asking for it, so it has to be done.”

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