Critical Move: Kentucky Moves Forward with Senate Bill 252 Establishing Special Mental Health Juvenile Detention Facility

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

Kentucky House committee has moved forward a bill, Senate Bill 252, that aims to establish a special mental health juvenile detention facility for housing “high acuity” youth. Sen. Danny Carroll, the sponsor of the bill, emphasized its importance, calling it a critical move. The bill has already passed the Senate and is now ready 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.

Additionally, 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, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services partnering to provide appropriate mental health treatment.

While the General Assembly’s two-year budget is not yet final, the Senate budget included funding for each of the female-only facilities and the mental health facility. Senator Carroll had requested more funding for the mental health facility

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