PRESS RELEASE on Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio:  November 1, 2010

 

JUVENILE DETENTION REFORM IN OHIO

Columbus, OH, November 1, 2010 – With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Cincinnati Bar Foundation, the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio, the Children’s Law Center, Inc., the Juvenile Justice Coalition – Ohio and Voices for Ohio’s Children are collaborating to increase awareness and support among key stakeholders and the general public for juvenile pretrial detention reform in Ohio with the release of two documents:  Rethinking Juvenile Detention in Ohio Issue Brief outlining the current research and impact of juvenile pre-trial detention and Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio Fact Sheet.  Both documents support the adoption of alternatives that will keep youth out of pretrial detention whenever possible, while maintaining community safety.   Amy Swanson, Executive Director of Voices for Ohio’s Children states, “Voices for Ohio’s Children is excited to work in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio, Children’s Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Coalition in supporting smart investments in community based programs that benefit children and families.”

Kim Brooks Tandy, Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center, points out that, “This initiative is important to existing reforms in Ohio which can safely reduce the rate of incarceration of children, and achieve better outcomes for them.  The front end of the system can be significantly impacted by eliminating the unnecessary use of detention.”

Research shows that:

  • Pretrial detention is an expensive option that does little to help juveniles or keep the community safe.
  • Detention reform saves scarce public dollars and redirects resources toward more cost-effective, community-based alternatives to confinement.
  • Jurisdictions employing detention alternatives have found reductions in the following: juvenile crime, the number of youth in long-term incarceration, costs associated with the juvenile justice system, and disproportionate minority contact.

 

Ronald Browder, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund – Ohio, emphasizes that, “It is time to move beyond the research findings and begin to implement the alternatives that have been proven to make a positive impact on both the youth and community.”

Five Ohio counties are participating in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), a nationally recognized model created by the Annie E. Casey Foundation to promote detention reform.  The model is being implemented in Ohio under the leadership of the juvenile courts in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Lucas, Montgomery, and Summit counties and the Ohio Department of Youth Services.  This initiative is an opportunity to improve the front-end of the juvenile justice system based on research and evidence-informed practices, as part of larger juvenile justice reforms in Ohio.   Sharon Weitzenhof, the Director of the Juvenile Justice Coalition, explains that, “The Juvenile Justice Coalition believes that by implementing the JDAI in Ohio, we will make great progress in improving our juvenile justice system, since the initiative starts at the entry point.”

Angela Chang, Staff Attorney, JDAI Defender Project, Children’s Law Center, Inc. also states that, “Implementing counties will have a chance to take leadership in Ohio by developing innovative and collaborative methods to reach the JDAI goals with the support of the expertise from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. JDAI is a unique process that will also bring together parties that may have been historically adversarial to the table to work together collaboratively to reach these common goals in their communities.”

The policy brief and accompanying fact sheet highlight JDAI’s goals of reducing over-reliance on juvenile pretrial detention without jeopardizing public safety, obtaining better outcomes for youth through better assessment and alternatives, promoting effective legal representation at the detention hearing stage, and reducing overrepresentation of youth from communities of color in the system.

To access the documents, please go to: www.childrensdefense.org/ohio; www.childrenslawky.org; www.juvenilecoalition.org; and http://www.vfc-oh.org.

Hard copies may also be obtained by contacting Barbara Turpin at 614-221-2244 or bturpin@cdfohio.org.