News Briefs: Archives 2011 & Earlier

Ohio Commits to Change

A court-mandated reform plan for Ohio should mean more use of small, community-based programs for youth and the hiring of more staff at detention facilities.

“I think it’s going to make an enormous difference for kids,” Amy N. Swanson, executive director of Voices for Ohio’s Children, said of the class-action settlement on behalf of the 1,700 kids incarcerated statewide.

The language of the settlement – which calls for evidence-based reforms, among other system-wide changes – “is unprecedented,” said Swanson, who will serve on a team that will monitor how the agreement is carried out.

State Department of Youth Services (DYS) Director Tom Stickrath issued a statement saying the agreement “turns a new corner in DYS history.”

That history, the settlement says, includes “use of force by staff, isolation practices, the absence of acceptable mental health care and other appropriate programming, overcrowding, and … deficiencies in education” that put youth “at risk physically, psychologically, and educationally.”

The suit was filed in December 2004 by the Children’s Law Center, the Youth Law Center and the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.

“Now the work really begins” to “revolutionize” the system, said Janet Moore, staff attorney for the policy center. She praised Gov. Ted Strickland (D) for his commitment to reforming DYS, noting that such a high level of support will drive the “culture change” that’s needed at the agency.

The agreement, estimated to cost between $20 million and $30 million to implement fully, calls for an infusion of new funding for DYS operations, reforms in the process through which youth are released from custody, and support for evidence-based community programs for low-risk offenders. It emphasizes the use of small (12- to 48-bed) community-based facilities that “keep appropriate juveniles as close to home as possible” and near community services.

It also says DYS must hire 115 juvenile correctional officers for eight correctional and rehabilitation facilities.

Although Swanson said the state budget is “really pinched,” she said the governor appears committed to funding DYS so that it can adhere to the settlement.

Shay Bilchik, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and Systems Integration, will also serve on the monitoring team, which will also include mental health and youth advocates.

“We are going to be monitoring and tracking the progress from an advocacy lens,” Swanson said.

See the Voices statement and get links to the settlement agreement at http://www.vfc-oh.org. See the settlement and the fact-finder’s report at http://www.dys.ohio.gov/dysweb/PressReleases.aspx.

Comments

Youth Today is the only independent, internationally distributed digital media publication that is read by thousands of professionals in the youth service field.

Youth Today adheres to high-quality journalistic standards, providing readers with professional news coverage dedicated to examining a wide spectrum of complex issues in the youth services industry from legislation to community-based youth work.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

Our organization retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue.

DONORS & DONOR TRANSPARENCY

We are committed to transparency in every aspect of funding our organization. Donors may be quoted, mentioned or featured in our stories. Our news judgments are made independently – not based on or influenced by donors. Accepting financial support does not mean we endorse donors or their products, services or opinions…(read more)

Archives

Categories

Recent Comments

Kennesaw State University Mountain Logo & Ceneter for Sustainable Journalism Logo
LOGO Institute for Nonprofit News 3 turquoise boxes stacked in "J" shape

Copyright © 2018 Youth Today and MVP Themes --- Published by Center for Sustainable Journalism,
Kennesaw State University, 1200 Chastain Blvd. Suite 310, Kennesaw GA 30144

To Top