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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Kentucky’s purpose clause for the Unified Juvenile Code was last amended effective 2014, and has elements of the BARJ model.  Since the clause ensures that policies and practices are supported by data and research and measured for effectiveness in achieving the intended results, it reveals an early shift that aligns with the Developmental Approach.  The clause also mentions that out of home placement decisions should be utilized for high-risk or high-level offenders and served through evidence-based programming.

KY ST §600.010

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.

In Kentucky, law enforcement can divert youth accused of a non-felony to a court-approved voluntary placement facility with parental consent. They can take custody of juveniles initially for 2 hours and must seek authorization from the court, trial commissioner, or court-designated/contracted worker (JPO) to extend time to 12 hours to transport youth to a secure or non-secure facility. Detention hearings must occur within 24 hours for status offenses or 48 hours for delinquent offenses (excluding weekends/holidays) and informal adjustment agreements can be arranged. 

Otherwise, the JPO makes the initial diversion decision for status offenses and the county attorney (DA) reviews delinquency (public offense) complaints to determine whether to dismiss the matter, provide unmonitored referrals to services (adjustment), divert with monitored agreements, or file the petition to initiate judicial action.  The JPO can dispose of 3 status or non-felonious complaints per child, and with written approval of the county attorney (DA), one felonious complaint other than a sexual offense or those involving the use of a deadly weapon. The DA cannot file a petition on misdemeanor-level offenses if the juvenile has no prior adjudication or diversions.  Typically, the JPO makes recommendations to the DA for delinquent offenses and the DA initially decides whether to have JPO start processing the case. When a complaint is screened out or diversion is intended, the JPO notifies the complainant, victim, and investigating law enforcement agency. Those notified may ask either for a review by Family Accountability, Intervention, and Response Team (status offenses) or the DA (delinquent offenses) to review the matter and consider initiating judicial action. If the DA and JPO do not agree, status offense complaints are referred to the Family Accountability, Intervention, and Response Team for review and further action and delinquency complaints may be brought before the judge. 

JPO-led dispositions can include informal adjustments and development of diversion agreements with graduated sanctions for non-compliance. Diversion agreement forms and guidelines are developed by the administrative office of the courts for use by JPO and plans can last no longer than 6 months. Conditions must include that the child regularly attend school, and may include: community service, restitution, and referrals for services/programs for the child/family. Methods to determine compliance and graduated sanctions for failure to comply are included in the agreement. Upon successful completion, the complaint is dismissed.

Once a petition is filed, before adjudication, the judge may refer the case to diversion or place the child on community supervision or monitoring by the court under informal adjustment with additional conditions as determined appropriate by the court for a period not to exceed 6 months. 

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Kentucky, some diversion programs can go for an amount of time unspecified in statute, but pre-petition court diversion agreements that require community supervision can last 6 months, and post-petition monitoring by the court under informal adjustment cannot exceed 6 months.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

In Kentucky, the legal basis for juvenile competency was set by judicial opinion [S.W.3d 854 (2004)] to follow (adult) penal code competency statute. The penal code aligns with the Dusky Standard and applies to transfer proceedings.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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