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Youth Prison Report: Ohio Stands Out for Turning Young Lives Around

Ohio has reduced admissions to youth correctional facilities by 80 percent since 1992, making it a standout in a new report on this facet of juvenile justice reform. (Pixabay)
Ohio has reduced admissions to youth correctional facilities by 80 percent since 1992, making it a standout in a new report on this facet of juvenile justice reform. (Pixabay)
October 24, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio stands out for its work in turning young lives around, according to a new report on youth prisons.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation research pulls together evidence of the ineffectiveness of youth correctional facilities, showing they are expensive and prone to abuse, and concluding they fail at reform.

And the report recommends closing all youth prisons and reinvesting in other types of programs.

Casey Foundation president and CEO Patrick McCarthy says Ohio is a good example with its RECLAIM program that shifts funding from youth corrections to community based options.

"RECLAIM Ohio has been a huge success in helping the state not only save money on incarceration, but reinvesting those funds in community based programs that are much more effective," McCarthy points out.

Since the program's launch in 1992, admissions to youth correctional facilities in Ohio have dropped by 80 percent and now stand at about 500 young people annually.

According to the Casey Foundation report, systemic maltreatment has been documented in youth prison facilities in nearly half the states since 2000, including Ohio.

McCarthy says it's the result of a model focused on security and control.

"They are staffed by corrections officers and in some facilities, things like Mace have been used, long extended isolation, shackles, handcuffs – very brutal methods of controlling a young population," he explains.

And instead of the outmoded assumption that locking up young people improves safety, McCarthy says the corrections culture should focus on rehabilitating them.

"We've got to build a juvenile justice system that's based on the very simple principle of developing young people's capacity, giving them opportunity,” he stresses. “Holding them accountable, of course, is also very important, but doing it in a way that provides them a path to get back on track."

Ohio has three juvenile correctional facilities, located in Circleville, Cuyahoga Hills and Indian River.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH