State Juvenile Justice Reforms Impact Miami Valley
The Ohio Department of Youth Services is free of federal court oversight for the first time in nearly a decade. The monitoring came after a lawsuit was filed in federal court alleging mistreatment of juveniles. As part of the settlement, the state agreed to improve conditions for kids in their care.
In Montgomery County, the changes brought in more state support for local alternative care centers. They provide treatment to youth offenders who otherwise would have been sent away to state facilities.
Montgomery County Juvenile Court Administrator James Cole says the funding was especially helpful in the Miami Valley.
“One of the things that we’re seeing are kids [that] have...the issues they face are so much more complex," said Cole. "We’re dealing with mental health issues, substance abuse issues, educational issues...when you can do that on a local level you’re going to be far more successful."
Cole says increased treatment options have led to a decrease in the population at Montgomery County’s Youth Detention facility. He says juvenile crime overall has gone down at the same time.
The state says the reforms will continue even as federal oversight ends.