Ohio Organizations, Teachers, and Students Launch #counselorsnotcuffs School Safety Funding Campaign
On August 30, 2018, a broad coalition of organizations, teachers, and students announced their #counselorsnotcuffs campaign around funding for school safety. In July, the Ohio legislature passed HB 318, which included $12 million in school safety funding. Originally, this funding was permitted to be used for hardware such as gun lockers and riot shields in Ohio’s schools. However, this language was removed and the final bill allows funding for 1) school resource officer certification and training, 2) active shooter and school safety training, 3) educational resources, and 4) training to identify and assist students with mental health issues. HB 318 also addressed limiting suspensions and expulsions for pre-K – 3rd graders and standards for Ohio School Resource Officers (SROs). A full summary of HB 318 is available here and a brief on SROs by CDF-Ohio is available here.
The #counselorsnotcuffs campaign calls on Ohio legislators and schools to fund school safety initiatives that are research-based and support students. This funding would support improving school climate, establishing threat training and protocol, and providing effective student supports – like routine access to licensed and trained mental health and addiction prevention and treatment services and professionals, such as counselors, nurses, and social workers – to prevent school shootings altogether, while having emergency plans with outside law enforcement agencies in place when a rare incident does occur.
JJC and ACLU Provide Path Forward for Cuyahoga County Detention Center
The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center has came under scrutiny after an incident with youth in the facility’s care. Unfortunately, the county’s response focused on moving youth to the adult jail, which could potentially violate federal law. JJC responded to this by submitting a letter to the editor and providing quotes in two articles, which can be accessed here and here. A recent article highlighted the need for an assessment center in the county.
JJC and the ACLU issued a letter to Cuyahoga County officials about the incident and the county’s response thus far with an accompanying press release, which was covered on cleveland.com. JJC and the ACLU appeared on Cleveland’s NPR station show The Sound of Ideas to discuss this issue; the show can be accessed here.
JJC will continue to work with the ACLU to monitor this situation and ensure that the county is responding in a way that will not harm youth and will be based on research-based practice on what works for maintaining facility and community safety.
JJC Issues Statement on the Death of 16-Year-Old Joseph Haynes
On January 17, 2018, 16-year-old Joseph Haynes was shot and killed by a deputy in the Franklin County Juvenile Courthouse while attending a hearing. JJC has issued a statement on this tragic event. The Columbus Dispatch has released several articles on this incident, including an article addressing the incident specifics an article questioning whether security officers in juvenile courts should carry guns.
JJC Responds to Shared Services Proposal from DYS and DRC
The Department of Youth Services (DYS) and the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (DRC) announced a proposal to share services between the two agencies. The plan proposes to co-locate the two agencies in the same building (which is both smaller and higher cost than the two agencies’ current spaces). In addition, the plan proposes combining certain functions and housing these functions at either DRC or DYS. For example, DRC will house accreditation/research, HR (including staff training), finance, and records, while DYS would take religious and volunteer services, quality assurance, and IT.
JJC released a statement expressing concerns about the proposal, particularly as the two agencies have very different goals and serve vastly different populations. We are concerned that this proposal will dilute DYS’s current focus on youth and their unique developmental needs and could potentially lead to further merging in the future.
HB 410 Goes into Effect 2017-2018 School Year.
As the 2017-2018 school year starts, HB 410 – a bill that changes Ohio’s truancy and school discipline laws – goes into effect. HB 410’s purpose is to work with students who are missing school to re-engage them in school and keep them out of formal juvenile court processing. To learn more about HB 410, please visit JJC’s dedicated HB 410 page.
Dayton Daily News on Incarcerating Youth: On May 16, 2017, the Dayton Daily News published an article that included an interview with JJC’s Executive Director examining how Ohio spends funding on youth involved in the juvenile courts, including youth in correctional facilities.
Vice Covers Bresha Meadows Case: On March 15, 2017, Vice News covered the story of Bresha Meadows, an Ohio girl involved in the juvenile court system for killing her father, who is alleged to have abused the family. JJC’s Executive Director was featured in the story.
JJC and VOU Go to DC.
In July 2016, JJC staff and 4 Voices of the Unheard (VOU) youth attended the National Juvenile Justice Network’s (NJJN’s) annual national conference in Washington DC. The conference brings together juvenile justice advocates from across the country to brainstorm, share best practices, and learn from each other as we push for reforms.
At the conference, Amber Evans, JJC’s Policy and Community Engagement Director, was awarded NJJN’s 2017 Emerging Leader Award after being nominated and chosen by her peers. Amber was selected for her unique work blending organizing and policy efforts and was featured in an article. Amber shared her award with the VOU youth at the conference and it was amazing to see Amber’s dedication and passion for the work recognized.
The VOU youth who attended the conference also flexed their leadership – leading icebreaker sessions, visiting OH legislators, speaking on several panels to lift youth voices, and sharing spoken word pieces at the reception. With support from Amber and VOU mentor Ekundayo Igeleke, they explored the city and each grew into their leadership and saw new possibilities for themselves, like flying on a plane for the first time or picturing themselves attending law school.
All Sides With Ann Fisher Radio Show: On June 10, 2015, JJC’s Executive Director Erin Davies appeared on the All Sides Radio Show with Ann Fisher on WOSU to discuss youth in the adult and juvenile justice systems. The show is archived here.
Columbus Dispatch Covers Lack of Juvenile System Data Collection: In May 2015, the Columbus Dispatch published an article on the lack of data collection on youth involved in juvenile court in Ohio. The Dispatch followed up with an editorial calling for Ohio to improve it’s juvenile justice system data collection, stating The editorial states “Ohio’s juvenile-justice system desperately needs a comprehensive, statewide database that employs modern technology…[and that] Courts should be able share data and the public should have easy access to analyze it for research and accountability purposes.”
Coverage of OJJA Fact Sheet Release: In March 2015, the Ohio Juvenile Justice Association held a press conference to release a fact sheet series on Ohio’s juvenile justice system; for more details see the event’s press release. The release was covered by the Columbus Dispatch, which wrote an article , and on WOSU’s radio program All Sides with Ann Fisher (listen to the archived program here).