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Black voters in battleground states are a crucial voting bloc in 2024; Nikki Haley says she's voting for Trump in November; healthcare advocates suggest medical collaboration to treat fibroids; distinct vibes at IU Indianapolis pro-Palestinian protest.

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The House GOP moves to strike mention of Trump's criminal trial from the record, and his former rival Nikki Haley endorses him. Meanwhile, Ohio Republicans reject a legislative fix to ensure Biden's name appears on the November ballot.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Youth detention on the decline in Kentucky

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Monday, April 8, 2024   

A new report showed a decade after being passed, Kentucky's juvenile justice reform law is getting results.

It found 60% of juvenile cases were diverted to alternative programs in 2020, compared to 41% in 2013. Instead of being sent to in detention centers, kids in diversion programs participate in home supervision, group homes, foster care, community programs and wraparound services.

Richard Mendel, senior youth justice research fellow for The Sentencing Project, said the state has also made strides in reducing racial disparities among kids whose cases are diverted. He pointed out statewide coordinators work across counties to help youth and their families navigate the system and find alternatives to detention.

"Kentucky looked at this, the state, and they very quickly changed their process for notifying people," Mendel explained. "Instead of sending a form letter, they started calling and engaging the families, and explaining why it's better to keep your kid out of court."

According to the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, in 2022, 982 youths were placed in an alternative program. In the first half of last year, 726 were placed. A spokesperson for the Cabinet said the number is expected to continue to increase, year-over-year.

Mendel added the goals of alternative programs are to ensure the public remains safe and the young person is set on a positive life path to reduce the odds of reoffending in childhood or as an adult.

"Diversion tends to be cheaper," Mendel emphasized. "It's not a net cost, it's a net savings, even in the short term. And it's especially a net savings financially in the long term, because these young people are much less likely to come back."

Last year, Gov. Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 162, which provides more than $25 million in funding for Department of Juvenile Justice staff salaries, transportation costs and expanded programming and diversion resources, such as residential psychiatric treatment for youth with severe mental health issues.


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