Kentucky Moves Towards Improving Mental Health Care for Youth in the Justice System with Bill Passing

Kentucky legislature moves forward with plans for mental health juvenile detention facility

A bill that aims to establish a special mental health juvenile detention facility for “high acuity” youth has been advanced by a Kentucky House committee. Sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll, the bill is considered a critical move that will improve the care of young people in the justice system. Senate Bill 252 has already passed the Senate and is now set for full House consideration.

With only two days left in the 60-day legislative session, time is running out for the bill to become law. The legislature must pass bills by Friday in order to preserve their right to override a potential veto by Gov. Andy Beshear. Under Carroll’s bill, Kentucky would begin operating two female detention centers by February 1, 2026 – one in Central Kentucky and one in the western part of the state. A third facility could be built if the first two reach capacity.

In addition to establishing two female-only detention centers, Kentucky would also build a 16-bed acute mental health facility designed to house juveniles in need of specialized treatment for aggression, violence, or property destruction. The Department of Juvenile Justice would own and staff the facility, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services partnering to provide appropriate mental health treatment.

While the General Assembly’s two-year budget is not yet final, funding for each of the female-only facilities and mental health facility was included in the Senate budget. Senator Carroll had requested more funding for the mental health facility, but final budget allocation remains uncertain. Carroll emphasized the urgency of establishing a mental health facility for youth in

A bill that aims to establish a special mental health juvenile detention facility for “high acuity” youth has been advanced by a Kentucky House committee. Sponsored by Sen. Danny Carroll, the bill is considered a critical move that will improve the care of young people in the justice system. Senate Bill 252 has already passed…

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