An Official Website of the Commonwealth of Kentucky
On August 16, 2021, Gov. Andy Beshear appointed Vicki Reed as Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).
Commissioner Reed pledges to work hand-in-hand with Kentucky's families and community leaders to set the state's youth on a path to a success while reducing youth crime and recidivism. In this role, she will be responsible for the management and oversight of almost 1,000 employees who serve the state's justice-involved youth housed at DJJ's Regional Juvenile Detention Centers, Youth Development Centers and Group Homes, including youth under supervised placement in the community, by providing the care, education and skills training they need to become successful citizens.
Commissioner Reed previously served at DJJ as an executive staff advisor and later as director of the Division of Classification and Placement Services, from 1998 to 2004. In that role, she assisted in the development and implementation of the statewide detention plan, which removed youth from adult jails and county-operated juvenile detention centers into the current model of a regional network of facilities and alternative programming, in accordance with House Bill 117 (1996 legislative session). She also assisted in developing DJJ's drug testing protocols and substance abuse programming.
In addition to previously serving in leadership at DJJ, Commissioner Reed gained vast experience in the juvenile justice system, having served as a former juvenile court probation officer, executive director of Metro Group Homes Inc., director of the Bluegrass Area Office for Necco Foster Care Agency and most recently director of the Kentucky Juvenile Justice Initiative (KJJI). As director of KJJI, she consulted with national organizations, including the National Partnership for Juvenile Services, Coalition for Juvenile Justice and Campaign for Youth Justice, to promote achievements of Kentucky's juvenile justice system including diversion, small treatment oriented juvenile facilities and regional juvenile detention centers. She also advocated for legislation and policies that promoted public safety and treatment of youth in a humane, age-appropriate manner.
Commissioner Reed is a native of Lexington and a graduate of Bryan Station High School. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a B.S. in law enforcement and a master's degree in criminal justice with specialization in juvenile justice.
James Sweatt was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear as Executive Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice's Office of Detention in May 2023, a first for the commonwealth's juvenile justice system. Director Sweatt brings more than 40 years of criminal justice experience to DJJ having served in numerous roles at the Kentucky Department of Corrections.
Director Sweatt began his career in state service as a Correctional Officer in 1975 at the Kentucky State Reformatory, where he continued for several years to promote through the leadership chain. In 1995 he accepted the position as Assistant Director of the Central Kentucky Treatment Center for Juveniles and position he would hold for four years. Mr. Sweatt returned to the adult correctional system in 1999 as Deputy Warden of Luther Luckett Correctional Complex and was appointed Warden of the Roederer Correctional Complex in 2003 where he served for 9 years. In 2012 he accepted the position of Director of Population Management and served in role until his retirement in 2016.
In addition to Executive Director Sweatt's commitment to enhance the safety and security of the state's juvenile detention centers, he is active in his church, the Newburg Church of Christ, a Hall of Fame inductee at his alma mater, Southwestern Christian College, and a member of the professional organizations of Kentucky Council on Crime and Delinquency (KCCD) and Southern States Correctional Association (SSCA). He has served in several leadership capacities in these organizations which include State President of KCCD and has been honored as a recipient of the Mary Frances Cooper Award in appreciation of his commitment to the Kentucky Criminal Justice system, PC Shields Award and President's Award for SSCA. He has also been a community liaison-offering inmate work crews in the local community when assistance was requested and partnering with the Oldham County History Center for an exhibit on the history of criminal justice/impact of the Kentucky State Reformatory on the local community.
Executive Director Sweatt was born in Bowling Green and graduated from Louisville Male High School in 1971. He furthered his education at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, graduating with an Associate of Art Degree in Sociology and a minor in Political Science.
Larry Chandler was appointed Deputy Director of the Office of Detention in May 2023. Immediately prior to his appointment, Chandler served as DJJ's Director of Security, beginning in January 2023.
Deputy Director Chandler started his career in corrections as the Trimble County jailer in 1978. He went to work for the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) at the Kentucky State Reformatory in 1982, where he worked several jobs and posts. When he left the Kentucky State Reformatory, he was the emergency preparedness coordinator, training coordinator and CERT Commander. While working with DOC, he worked at the Bell County Forestry Camp and helped open the Green River Correctional Complex in Muhlenberg County and Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in Oldham County. While at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, Chandler served on the design team for the Little Sandy Correctional Complex in Elliott County.
Chandler finished his first career at the Kentucky State Reformatory in 2008 when he retired from DOC. He has worked as a consultant in California and the United Arab Emirates, training for the American Correctional Association and others. Mr. Chandler was appointed to the Kentucky Parole Board in 2013, serving four years on the Board and one year as chair, where he wrote the first policies for the Board.
He was asked to return to service at DOC in 2020 to help open the Southeast State Correctional Complex in Floyd County. After a year at SSCC, he was asked to transfer to the Little Sandy Correction Complex to help with the design of the new expansion. During his time with DOC, Chandler served as warden at six institutions.
Deputy Director Chandler graduated from the University of Louisville with a B.S. in Correctional Administration and a master's degree in Justice Administration from the University of Louisville, where he taught part-time for nine years. He also holds a master's degree in Management from Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky. Chandler currently resides in Oldham County.
Stephanie Francis was appointed Executive Director of the Office of Community and Mental Health Services in June of 2022. Stephanie started her work at Morehead Treatment Center 30 years ago, as a Juvenile Treatment Assistance Principle, which is known today as a Youth Worker. While at Morehead, she served as a shift supervisor and counselor. In 1998, Stephanie joined the Community Service Branch as a Family Service Clinician in Fayette County. While working in Fayette County, she held the positions of Juvenile Services Specialist and Juvenile Service District Supervisor. Stephanie later transferred to the Classification Branch as a Corrections Program Administrator. Ultimately, she returned to the Community and Mental Health Branch, as the East Region Branch Manager and Division Director. Stephanie loves the work we do and is passionate about expanding opportunities for staff to gain knowledge and confidence.
Stephanie holds a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in corrections from Morehead State University and has a master's degree in adult higher education with an emphasis on sociology.
Veronica Koontz was appointed Executive Director of the Office of Support Services in May of 2022. She is a 29-year veteran with the Department of Juvenile Justice, beginning her career in 1994 as a youth worker at Morehead Youth Development Center. During her time with DJJ she served as a Youth Services Program Supervisor in residential programs, was a trainer with both the Training Branch and Division of Program Services, worked in DJJ Classification as a Juvenile Program Administrator and served as the Director for the Division of Placement Services. Veronica serves as the DJJ Representative to the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, is a point of contact for the Juvenile Justice Oversite Council and is a member of the Supporting Kentucky Youth Governance Council.
Veronica holds a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in criminology from Morehead State University and has a master's degree in adult higher education from the same institution.