ACLU of Kentucky Calls Attention to Abysmal Conditions in Adair County Youth Detention Center

By Kaveh Nasseri

COLUMBIA, KY – Young people incarcerated in the Adair County Youth Detention Center (ACYDC) are facing unsafe and unacceptable living conditions, evidence of “a flawed juvenile justice system,” charged the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky this past week.

The ACLU writes that with the closure of the Louisville Metro Youth Detention Center in 2019, detained youths in Louisville were transferred two hours away to ACYDC, where community members and former employees have attested to these dangerous conditions.

The ACLU of Kentucky, citing information from two former nurses at the detention center, said the ACYDC is understaffed, and “many of those on staff are untrained or undertrained.”

Children are placed in cells against the recommendation of medical professionals, and sometimes “held on lockdown for 24 hours a day without food,” maintains the ACLU, alleging staff withholds medications as a form of punishment, accuse children of faking mental illnesses, and fail to provide basic nutrition or effective plumbing.

The ACLU of Kentucky stresses the routine dismissal of professional medical advice as an especially pertinent issue, stating ACYDC staff allegedly “placed children in physical restraints without notifying medical staff as required, refused to allow nurses to review video footage of physical restraints being applied” and “failed to administer prescribed medications.”

Another major issue is the increasingly unsanitary conditions at ACYDC, according to the ACLU, writing “children are isolated in cells and detained…without access to a shower.” According to a former staff member who spoke to the media, the children detained in the facility have little to no freedom of movement and eat “terrible food.”

The ACLU also claims that ACYDC has violated KRS § 15A.020(a) by not having an ombudsman, keeping employees from issuing complaints with anyone other than a direct superior. In response to these poor conditions, and after an incarcerated girl was reportedly sexually assaulted, there was a “riot” among the incarcerated youth in November 2022.

The ACLU of Kentucky submitted a report on these matters to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice, requesting that the DOJ investigate, while noting, “Clearly…the system is failing incarcerated children. Change and oversight are well overdue.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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