LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some Kentucky lawmakers say it's time for Louisville to reopen a juvenile detention center after the city's Jefferson County Youth Detention Center shut down in late 2019.

"'Juvenile crime is driving the crime wave in Louisville.' That was a quote in our committee yesterday from one of the top law enforcement officials in Louisville," said Rep. Kevin Bratcher, R-29. "These crimes include murder and car jackings and it's happening in my district in Fern Creek. I'm getting sick of it and it's happening all over Louisville and I know Louisvillians are getting sick of it."

Bratcher said he met with Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg, Deputy Mayor David James, Interim Police Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, and several judges Wednesday to discuss bringing a juvenile facility back to the metro.

"One of the best talks I've ever had with Louisville leadership since the Yum! Center," he said. "It was a great meeting."

On Thursday, the Department of Juvenile Justice workgroup leadership, including Bratcher, spoke about the problems surrounding juvenile justice in the commonwealth. This comes after several issues at juvenile facilities, including two recent attacks at the Warren County center and issues at the facility in Adair County.

"We've had two staff recently from Adair County that have been in the ICU for multiple days," said House Majority Whip Jason Nemes.

This workgroup is calling on the state to make improvements to safety and order in facilities, including adding state police to high level facilities.

Some steps, they said, are already being taken, such as providing trauma care. But there are other recommendations still on their list, including an open inspection by an independent party of the detention facilities and an appointment of an outside trustee as a receiver to manage the overhaul of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). 

"We need an independent party to come and do an inspection of these facilities," said Nemes.

When Louisville could have a large-scale juvenile detention center again is unclear, but Bratcher is optimistic it could happen soon, after recent conversations.

"It's time to happen. It's time to get a detention center, and we're going to do it," he said. 

When asked about this topic Thursday afternoon, Greenberg said, "We support reopening the downtown juvenile justice system, working in partnership with the state that will operate it."

Greenberg also said the city will put together a partnership to provide services to these juveniles "so we can get them the support and services they need so they can get out of the system and lead productive, safe and healthy lives."

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