Louisville mayor and district judge face off over fate of juveni - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville mayor and district judge face off over fate of juvenile facility

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville's Mayor and a local judge are deadlocked over a facility that houses troubled teens. It's slated to close in three days.

A meeting Tuesday night could settle it all. It's a debate between philosophy and finance. At the center of that debate is Louisville's Alternative Placement Services: a 12-bed facility in a separate wing of the juvenile jail, which can house the juveniles who need the least restrictive care.

But Ursula Mullins, the director of Louisville Metro Youth Detention Services, says it sits empty most nights, even though it carries a full-time staff of 13.

"There are times when we've had zero kids," said Mullins.

The ideal occupant of the facility is a child who has gotten in trouble, but doesn't deserve to be locked up alongside those charged with more serious crimes, such as murder.

"Say you have a kid who is trying to defend their mom or dad against violence and winds up in the middle picking up charges," explained Judge Holton. "I need a place for them to cool down, wind down and simmer down."

Over time, APS funding has gone down. First the state cut $300,000. Now the city is trying cut the rest, about $600,000.

 "The only thing in the world is not how we're paying for things -- it's about how it affects the lives of these kids," said Jefferson County Juvenile Court Judge David Holton.

But Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says there aren't enough kids housed in the facility to justify the expense.

"This year in that particular program, we're servicing three kids right now at a cost of $600,000," said Fischer. "There are a lot more cost-effective ways to do this -- with home incarceration, for instance. Or in the future, if a kid is picked up, they can go to a Safe Place."

APS is slated to close Friday. 

"I can't send them home because that's where the trouble started in the first place," Judge Holton said. "Safe Place won't take the child unless the parent signs and agrees to it...so I hope a compromise can be worked out before I lose a crucial an integral part of what I'm trying to do with these kids."

Judge Holton will take those concerns before Metro Council's budget hearing Tuesday evening. He says it's a last-ditch effort to save APS, and fears that without it, more kids may end up in juvenile jail. 

"Simply saying it's not fiscally responsible -- well, that's not a responsible approach," Judge Holton said.

"We're just trying to reallocate the money to where it can be put to the best use for the most number of kids," Mayor Fischer said.

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