JJC News and Updates

Ohio spends $185,303 to incarcerate youth annually (7/30/20)

Advocates urge shifting resources from incarceration to investing in youth

Columbus, OH — Today, the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio (JJC) called on Governor Mike DeWine and state legislators to shift resources away from incarceration to investing in youth in their communities in light of new data released by the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) that shows Ohio spends $185,303 annually to incarcerate one young person. A majority of these young people are Black, as Black youth are five times more likely than white youth to be incarcerated, even as rates of youth incarceration are declining across the nation.

In comparison, Ohio only spends $12,102 annually to educate a young person. Instead of spending tens of millions of dollars every year on police budgets and locking up young people, Ohio should prioritize helping young people. Local leaders can instead invest resources that will place young people in healthier living arrangements, with access to good public education, and in a job with a living wage, rather than behind bars, in solitary confinement and at risk of COVID-19. Continue reading Ohio spends $185,303 to incarcerate youth annually (7/30/20)

For Black Lives to Matter, We Must #FreeOurYouth (7/16/20)

Juvenile Justice Coalition demand release of detained and incarcerated Ohio youth 

Columbus, OH, July 16, 2020 — Last month, one of the mothers that works with the Juvenile Justice Coalition (JJC), a state-wide advocacy organization that works with Ohio youth who are at-risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile court system, celebrated the freedom of her child from detention in Franklin County after recovering from COVID-19. The teenager was incarcerated in November for his family’s inability to pay bond and remained in the detention center for eight months. Although bail is used sparingly in the juvenile justice system in Ohio, research shows the cash bail system is constructed to be harmful to those who are Black, Latinx, and poor. In May, he joined the long list of youth who contracted COVID-19 in juvenile facilities. The disparate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on communities of color is closely tied to the systemic racism of  the criminal legal system. Read More…

Youth at Risk as First Staff Tests Positive for COVID-19 at Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center (5/5/20)

Columbus, OH, May 5, 2020 — This week, the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Center reported its first positive staff cases of COVID-19. These test results now follow the recent news that the virus has started to spread in an Ohio youth prison, with 21 youth and nine staff testing positive in Cuyahoga Hills JCF at the latest count.

“Positive staff cases should sound the alarm bells. The virus can only get into facilities if it is brought in, and detained youth cannot socially distance from staff, meaning the young people inside have now been exposed and endangered,” said Aramis Sundiata, Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice CoalitionRead More…

Juvenile Justice Advocates Express Concern about Youth in Shelter Care & Non-Secure Residential Facilities in Letter to Juvenile Stakeholders (4/4/20)

COLUMBUS – The ACLU of Ohio, Center for Children’s Law and Policy, Children’s Law Center, Juvenile Justice Coalition, National Association of Social Workers-Ohio Chapter, and Policy Matters Ohio sent a letter to Director Gies of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Director Hall of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, juvenile judges, and court administrators to express concern about youth in shelter care and non-secure residential facilities being unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19. The organizations acknowledged and thanked Director Gies for recent transparency efforts to publicize information about youth in detention and correctional facilities across the state, but urge immediate action steps for all-systems involved youth.

Continue reading at ACLUOhio.org

Ohio Prison & Youth Facilities Now Providing Daily Updates Re: COVID-19 Following Coalition Request (3/26/20)

COLUMBUS – Amid public pressure for enhanced transparency, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) and the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS), complied with advocacy groups’ request for daily, public report-outs on the COVID-19 situation in Ohio’s prisons and youth facilities.

Continue reading at ACLUOhio.org

Ohio Advocacy Groups Urge Ongoing Transparency Regarding COVID-19 Concerns in Prisons and Youth Facilities (3/24/20)

COLUMBUS – Today the ACLU of Ohio, Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, Juvenile Justice Coalition, the Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, Ohio Student Association, and Policy Matters Ohio sent a letter to Governor DeWine, ODRC Director Chambers-Smith, and DYS Director Gies with three sets of questions about the COVID-19 crisis and Ohio’s incarcerated population.

Continue reading at ACLUOhio.org

COVID-19 Endangers Incarcerated Youth (3/20/20)

Columbus, OH, March 20, 2020 — On Thursday, March 19th the Juvenile Justice Coalition delivered a letter to Governor DeWine, co-signed by the ACLU of Ohio and Policy Matters Ohio, requesting the creation of a plan to protect young people inside the juvenile justice system from the spread of COVID-19. Ohio joined 22 other states in urging their governors and juvenile justice system administrators to reduce the fatal harm being caused by the novel coronavirus.

The letter outlines three strategies to ensure that facilities are as empty and safe as possible: reduce the population of young people in state and local facilities, mitigate the impacts on youth while they await release, and reduce consequences of probation.

JJC recommends releasing youth who are currently detained or incarcerated and halting the arrest or incarceration of additional youth. While in-person visitations and programs are suspended, youth should not be charged to access phone and video communication with their families and support systems. For youth on probation, any probation conditions which require travel, social interaction, and which cost the families, should not be enforced in order to reduce virus exposure and financial burden.

“The governor has taken steps to protect children and families by closing schools, but children behind bars can’t engage in social distancing or other safe practices. Some adult courts in counties across Ohio are doing the right thing by reducing their jail populations but we need to be doing the same in the juvenile system, and quickly,” concluded JJC Executive Director, Aramis Sundiata.

Research shows that incarcerated populations are most at risk during a public health crisis. As COVID-19 spreads quickly in enclosed spaces, such as cruise ships and nursing homes, it can spread just as quickly in detention centers, prisons and jails, and facilities are not equipped to handle the medical needs of youth if a COVID-19 outbreak should occur inside a juvenile detention or correctional facility

“Children should not be incarcerated to begin with. Leaving them in these conditions, during a pandemic unlike anything we’ve ever seen, should not even be an option,” added Kenza Kamal, JJC Policy Director.

Juvenile Justice Coalition is a state-wide advocacy organization that works with Ohio youth who are at risk of involvement or involved in the juvenile court system. JJC works mainly through policy advocacy and works with youth and families. 

Letter to Governor DeWine re: Coronavirus (3/19/20)

Dear Governor DeWine,

We are writing to share our concerns about the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on justice-involved youth in our state. Thanks to your leadership, Ohio is providing the country one of the most proactive and evidencebased guides to preventing virus spread. As we take the precautions to close schools, cancel events, and shift to supporting children in their homes and communities, we fear that one group of young people is being left behind: those under the supervision of the juvenile justice system. Read more…