This study evaluated the impact of Kentucky’s Senate Bill 200 (SB 200), which was enacted to strengthen Kentucky’s juvenile justice system and improve outcomes for youth.
SB 200 was enacted largely as one outcome of Kentucky’s participation in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP’s) Smart on Juvenile Justice Initiative (now known as the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Initiative), beginning in 2014. This initiative’s goals for juvenile justice reform are to 1) adopt developmentally appropriate evidence-based practices; 2) eliminate racial and ethnic disparities; 3) maximize cost savings while holding youth accountable; and 4) improve outcomes for youth. The objectives of SB 200 legislation are to focus resources on the most serious offending youth; reinvest savings into strengthening early intervention and prevention programs; increase the effectiveness of juvenile justice programs and services; and improve government performance by providing oversight. The current evaluation found that the implementation of SB 200 resulted in 1) an increase in the number of cases placed on diversion; 2) a lowering of juvenile recidivism; 3) a reduction of juvenile imprisonments without an increase in their placement in youth detention centers, group homes, or probation; 4) an increase in the number of youth of color placed in diversion programs; 5) youth of color and white youth having comparable risk for recidivism; and 6) SB 200 did not change the existing relationships between the number of adjudicated youth of color and youth placed in any out-of-home facilities. Recommendations are offered for research, policy and practice. 20 figures, 7 tables, and 18 references