Kentucky Moves to Establish Mental Health Juvenile Detention Facility Amid Time Crunch

Kentucky legislature moves forward with plans for mental health juvenile detention facility

A bill that aims to establish a special mental health juvenile detention facility for housing “high acuity” youth has been advanced by a Kentucky House committee. The sponsor, Sen. Danny Carroll, emphasized the importance of this bill and called it a critical move. Senate Bill 252 has already passed the Senate and is now set for consideration by the full House.

As Wednesday marks the 57th day of the 60-day legislative session, time is running out for the bill to become law. The legislature must pass bills by Friday in order to preserve their right to override a potential veto by Gov. Andy Beshear. Under Carroll’s bill, Kentucky would begin operating two female detention centers by Feb. 1, 2026 – one in Central Kentucky and one in the western part of the state. A third facility could be built if the first two reach capacity.

In addition to these facilities, Kentucky would also build a 16-bed acute mental health facility designed to house juveniles in need of specialized treatment for aggression, violence or property destruction. The Department of Juvenile Justice would own and staff the facility while partnering with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to provide appropriate mental health treatment.

While funding for these facilities is still uncertain as the General Assembly’s two-year budget is not yet final, Senator Carroll had requested more funding for the mental health facility but this allocation remains uncertain. Carroll stressed that establishing a mental health facility for youth in

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