Between 2001 and 2010, Ohio dramatically decreased its reliance on the incarceration of youth by 32 percent. This July, the National Juvenile Justice Network released a report titled The Comeback States, highlighting the efforts of nine states, including Ohio, to reduce their reliance on youth incarceration. However, despite this decrease, Ohio still incarcerates more youths than the national average, leading many to argue that more work still needs to be done.
Critics report that youth are increasingly incarcerated for incidents that previously would have been handled by parents or school officials, such as school fighting. This echoes larger trends of increased incarceration for both adult and youth offenders. Schubert Center Child Policy Director Gabriella Celeste has been a key figure in the movement to reform juvenile justice in the state of Ohio, including assisting in the writing and passage of House Bill 86.
In a news report about the decrease, Celeste said, “We need to move the system to what research tells us works for adolescents. Within three years of getting out of a detention facility, 50 percent of kids are re-offending.” She and other researchers at Case have advocated investing in improved diversion tactics, including mental health programs and evidence-based programs for reducing recidivism.
The efforts of Gabriella Celeste, other faculty associates and partner organizations to bring evidence-based practice into juvenile justice reform in Ohio are detailed in The Bridge to Somewhere: How Research Made its Way into Legislative Juvenile Justice Reform in Ohio: A Case Study. Patrick Kanary, Faculty Associate and Director of the Center for Innovative Practices, Marcia Egbert of the George Gund Foundation, and Celeste presented on their work in reforming juvenile justice in Ohio as part of the Schubert Center Conversation Series on October 11, 2011.