FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 27, 2023) – The Republican Party of Kentucky issued the following statement after the codification of House Bill 3 and other Republican-led legislation to reform the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice after Andy Beshear, Kerry Harvey, and Vicki Reed ran it into the ground and whistleblowers came forward about efforts to cover up chaos and riots at detention facilities.
“Andy Beshear and Kerry Harvey have a long career of making messes and failing to clean them up,” RPK Spokesman Sean Southard said. “A review of the Beshear-Harvey record at the Department of Juvenile Justice shows an administration in total disarray: riots, allegations of sexual assault, a lack of staffing, and then the associated cover-up. They even tried to redefine the word ‘riot.’ Thanks to strong Republican leadership in the General Assembly, the Beshear-Harvey Juvenile Justice system will be reformed, with serious investment in our detention facilities and behavioral services so that staff and detainees are protected. We just can’t trust Andy Beshear to keep us safe.”
ANDY BESHEAR’S DISASTROUS RECORD ON JUVENILE JUSTICE
- The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has been plagued with problems since the moment Andy Beshear took office. Numerous news reports in 2021 revealed that former state juvenile justice commissioner LaShana Harris was under investigation and eventually resigned after the Beshear Administration tried to fire her for creating a “toxic environment.”
- In 2021, the Beshear Administration “accelerated its training for newly hired youth workers…sending them directly into detention facilities rather than have them spend their first three weeks learning basic security skills.” – Herald-Leader: “Kentucky cuts academy training, sends new juvenile justice employees straight to work,” Nov. 15, 2021.
- Whistleblowers came forward during the Beshear Administration to say that “some incidents are not being documented” at the Department of Juvenile Justice. – WAVE 3: “A Matter of Life and Death: Whistleblowers urge closing of Juvenile Detention Center in Lyndon,” Sept. 16, 2022.
- One journalist said the Department of Juvenile Justice has been mired in “a series of scandals and systemic failures over the years, including youth riots, drug use, inappropriate use of force by staff, poor supervision…” – Herald-Leader: “Police investigating alleged sexual assault at KY juvenile justice center during riot,” Nov. 14, 2022.
- Beshear Administration officials misled legislative leaders about chaos at Juvenile Justice detention centers across the state. – Herald-Leader: “‘Struggling to feel safe.’ Reports reveal chaos inside KY juvenile justice facilities,” Dec. 13, 2022
- Lawmakers called for a full-blown investigation and leadership changesat the Department of Juvenile Justice, but Andy Beshear continues to stand by Vicki Reed, his embattled Commissioner of Juvenile Justice. – KY GOP Twitter, Feb. 2, 2023