Community Investigations

When a youth is accused of a crime in Kentucky, an adult has to make a choice in nearly every step that follows.

Allow the youth to avoid a formal charge, or bring the case to a judge? Send him back home to his own bed, or to sleep in a cell?

Put another way: Offer another chance, or deny it?

Disproportionately, the Kentucky youth denied that second chance are black, according to an investigation by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

The investigation found that this disparity occurs at nearly every decision point in Kentucky’s juvenile justice system.

As juvenile detention center populations dwindle and fewer minor offenders are locked up, whites feel the benefit most. Youth lockups are becoming more black and brown.

Join us Thursday at 1 p.m. as we talk with researchers, policymakers and youth advocates about the problem — and what Kentucky needs to do to fix it.

Call with comments and questions during the show at (502) 814-TALK or tweet your questions @WFPLNews. You can also catch the conversation on Facebook live, and in a rebroadcast Thursday night at 8, on 89.3 WFPL.

Kate Howard’s reporting on racial disparities was undertaken as a project for the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, a program of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Kate Howard is a veteran investigative reporter specializing in government accountability and higher education issues.