A national report on juvenile justice systems lauds programs in Lucas County that have reduced the number of young offenders sent to the state’s Department of Youth Services.
The report, “Safely Home,” was released Wednesday by Youth Advocate Programs Policy & Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group that aims to reduce the number of institutionalized youth. The report concluded that young people are more successful if they are sent home and put through programs rather than held in detention after an arrest, which the report said also saves money.
In 1988, the Lucas County juvenile court system sent 300 youths to the Department of Youth Services for incarceration. Through May this year, 17 children were committed to DYS, said Lucas County Juvenile Court Judge Denise Navarre Cubbon.
In 2013, the average daily cost of incarceration at a state juvenile prison was $554.80 — which includes rehabilitative programming, treatment, education, and security, said Kim Jump, a spokesman for the Department of Youth Services. The “marginal cost,” which includes food, clothing, medical care, and treatment — excluding payroll and equipment — was $27.60.
Officials in Lucas County are recalculating the costs of holding a juvenile in detention, but Deb Hodges, the juvenile court administrator, said the cost is about $155 a day.
Ms. Hodges also noted that the average cost of incarcerating a juvenile in a state prison or juvenile state prison is more than $86,000 a year — more than the cost of tuition, room, board, and books at both Ohio State University and Oberlin College.
“All of a sudden we’re starting to treat kids the way that we hope our kids would be treated,” Judge Navarre Cubbon said.
The court’s creation of the Youth Assessment Center helps, the judge said. Juveniles who are arrested for low-level offenses, such as petty theft or trespassing, are taken to the center, which opened last fall. There, counselors and others interview the young people to determine the best-possible treatments or interventions.
Youths who do not pose a public-safety risk are released to their parents or guardians. Those who are arrested for serious, violent crimes or pose a safety risk are held in juvenile detention.
“Children do best in the community,” Judge Navarre Cubbon said. “If we can keep the community safe and we can give them tailored services to help them in their efforts toward rehabilitation, all the research will tell you ... that there’s a higher likelihood of reducing their recidivism rates.”
The juvenile court is working on other programs including finding mentors to work intensively with juveniles. Court officials are also working to schedule community forums to discuss what the courts and communities could do to help young offenders become successful.