Juvenile Justice Earns High Marks for Zero-Tolerance Policy toward Sexual Misconduct

Juvenile Justice Earns High Marks for Zero-Tolerance Policy toward Sexual Misconduct

Bill Stephens

August 31st, 2016



FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 31, 2016) – In a testament to safety and good management, the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) announced today that all of its residential youth facilities have received a perfect score on compliance audits for the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The law, known as PREA, seeks to improve the detection, prevention and prosecution of sexual harassment and abuse in correctional facilities across the country. All of Kentucky’s 27 facilities, along with one contract facility, have received a score of 100 percent compliance in external audits, which are required under the law. 

“These scores demonstrate our absolute commitment to preventing sexual victimization and harassment of youth in our custody,” said LaDonna Koebel, acting commissioner of DJJ. “We refuse to tolerate abuse of any kind and will continue working hard to maintain the strong focus on safety and awareness in our facilities.” 

LaShana Harris, assistant director and PREA compliance officer for the department, said spearheading implementation was a tremendous task, but that facility superintendents, PREA coordinators and staff all worked together to navigate the experience. 

“PREA is more than just protecting the sexual safety of youth in DJJ custody,” Harris said. “PREA makes juvenile justice systems examine every aspect of business operations and treatment to ensure that staff are doing their best work for the youth within our care and custody. Receiving perfect scores on every compliance audit shows our staff’s dedication to excellence.” 

Under PREA, the U.S. Department of Justice identified 185 standards and sub-standards that juvenile justice agencies must follow to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual misconduct. All facilities across the country must undergo regular audits to ensure compliance, and independent auditors began reviewing Kentucky facilities last year – the first time since the standards took effect. 

The department’s zero tolerance policy dictates that anyone who engages in, fails to report or knowingly condones sexual harassment or sexual abuse of a youth shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Employees also are required to immediately report any inappropriate behavior between staff and youth. The policy protects employees against any form of retaliation when they make a report.

Auditors, during an exit conference with officials, were highly complementary of DJJ’s level of compliance and commitment to implementing the standards. 

Kentucky Justice Secretary John Tilley also applauded the department’s performance. 

“DJJ has the unconditional responsibility to provide a safe environment for each youth in custody, and these scores confirm that safety and security are paramount in every facility,” Secretary Tilley said. “I’m proud to see the department take such great strides in meeting these standards to perfection, and I congratulate them on this accomplishment.” 

Facilities that underwent audits were:

• Adair Youth Development Center, Adair County (operates two facilities)
Audubon Youth Development Center, Jefferson County
Cadet Leadership and Education Program, Breathitt County
Green River Youth Development Center, Butler County
Lake Cumberland Youth Development Center, Wayne County
Mayfield Youth Development Center, Graves County
Morehead Youth Development Center, Rowan County
Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center, Kenton County
Owensboro Treatment Center, Daviess County
Woodsbend Youth Development Center, Morgan County
Boyd Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Boyd County
Breathitt Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Breathitt County
Campbell Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Campbell County
Fayette Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Fayette County
Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Hardin County
McCracken Regional Juvenile Detention Center, McCracken County
Warren Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Warren County
Ashland Group Home, Boyd County
Bowling Green Group Home, Warren County
Burnside Group Home, Pulaski County
Frankfort Group Home, Franklin County
Frenchburg Group Home, Menifee County
Hopkinsville Group Home, Christian County
London Group Home, Laurel County
Middlesboro Group Home, Bell County
Westport Group Home, Jefferson County
Louisville Metro Youth Services, Jefferson County (contract facility) 

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