Juvenile Justice Coalition

Speaking Out with Ohio's Youth

Category: Press Releases

Cost & Benefits of Ohio’s Juvenile Justice System

Ohio Cost & Benefits of JJ System.  This brochure, released in October 2011, illustrates the costs & benefits of investing in Ohio’s youth.

Letter urges Ohio Legislature to convene, consider reforms to criminal and juvenile justice systems

On November 9, 2010, 24 signatories sent a letter to Gov. Strickland, Senate President Harris, and Speaker Budish, urging them to convene the 128th General Assembly to consider Senate Bill 22 and House Bill 235.  The letter was promoted through a press release.

letter to the editor on troubled facilities

On December 2, 2010, JJC submitted letters to the editor of major Ohio newspapers regarding our concerns with ODYS facilities.

Juvenile Detention Reform in Ohio Press Release

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



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.

Ohioans concerned about mistreatment of children in ODYS institutions

On October 12, 2004, the Juvenile Justice Coalition, in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Ohio, organized a meeting of representatives from Ohio organizations concerned about children and juvenile justice issues. The catalyst for the meeting was the allegations of abuse in Ohio’s juvenile correctional facilities, brought to light by newspaper investigations and a report prepared by Fred Cohen for the Ohio Department of Youth Services (ODYS).

Summary of problems:

  • Scioto Correctional Facility issues identified in the Cohen report – “Our site visits convinced each team member that there has been and remains a culture of violence among the uniformed staff, that verbal and physical abuse are common, that sexual misconduct by staff occurs, only crisis-type mental health care is available, and structured programming consistent with clearly stated and shared objectives is virtually non-existent.”
  • A Federal lawsuit filed in July 2004 by the Children’s Law Center claims that ODYS routinely denies juveniles access to legal help. According to the lawsuit, the Department of Youth Services did not adequately respond to the allegations of abuse, then failed to provide legal assistance despite repeated requests for help.
  • Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility (for sexual offenders) – a Columbus Dispatch investigation identified a significant amount of sexual activity among residents and a lack of appropriate treatment/ supervision of residents.

We are very concerned about the problems addressed in the Cohen report related to the safety and appropriate treatment of residents at Scioto Correctional Facility. Furthermore, we have serious concerns about the safety of residents and inadequate programming and treatment at all ODYS facilities. No one is charged with oversight of ODYS facilities. Within the current environment, we question the ability of ODYS to provide adequate care for youngsters in their care. There should be zero tolerance for abuse of residents or the denial of their civil and legal rights.

We hold the Ohio Executive and Legislative branches responsible for the care, protection, and mental and physical development of children in ODYS facilities (Ohio Revised Code Section 2152.01). We would like to meet with you to discuss these issues.

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