FRANKFORT – 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 and Louisville Metro Youth Services, Jefferson County (contract facility).