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CR (202) 616-2765 TDD (202) 514-1888
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO PRAISES KENTUCKY FOR UPGRADING CONDITIONS AT JUVENILE TREATMENT CENTERS WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an effort to cut down on juvenile crime, Attorney General Janet Reno joined Kentucky Governor Brereton Jones today in signing an agreement ensuring that juveniles confined in thirteen treatment centers throughout the state will be protected from abuse and neglect, receive the proper educational services and be set on the right path. The agreement, signed at a ceremony in the statehouse in Frankfort, stems from an investigation that the Justice Department launched in February 1995. The Justice Department conducted the investigation after receiving complaints from advocacy groups and reading news reports revealing that juveniles were being abused, placed improperly in solitary confinement and receiving inadequate medical and mental health care. During the investigation, conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), Justice Department officials toured five facilities with experts in juvenile justice; interviewed staff, parents and children; and reviewed records. They found that conditions at the centers failed to meet minimum constitutional standards. Under today's agreement, the state will: significantly change the way it reports abuse and neglect; increase the treatment and aftercare services it provides to ensure the children become productive members of society upon release; provide mental health services; provide educational services and individualized care in the most appropriate setting depending on the needs of each child; no longer isolate the children improperly; and enable a third party to monitor the state's compliance with the agreement. "We must not give up on our children," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "We must make sure that youngsters entering these centers come out willing to give back to society, rather than eager to get back at it." Although the Justice Department only investigated five centers, the state pledged to implement changes throughout all 13 facilities in the state system. "These important changes would not have been possible without
the enthusiastic response of the state," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "The problems of the past are now behind us because of the vision and foresight of the state officials." Following its investigation, the Justice Department concluded in July that procedures to investigate abuse and neglect were flawed; the state failed to provide adequate treatment and aftercare services; staff at the centers isolated the children for prolonged periods; and the state did not offer adequate medical and mental health care services. The Justice Department also found that the state violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by failing to develop individual education plans for qualifying individuals. The agreement must be approved by the U.S. District Court in Louisville. # # # 95-578