Ohio Proves Rehabilitation Works
by John Kiriakou
The Buckeye State may be the most progressive in the union when it comes to youth prison reform.
You might not guess it from the Republican governor or GOP-dominated legislature, but Ohio is proving itself the most progressive state in the union when it comes to youth prison reform.
“What we've done in the past is treat the children who are incarcerated like mini adults,” explained Linda Janes, the deputy director of Ohio’s Department of Youth Services. “We know better now through research and through all kinds of evidence that that's a mistake. Children have to be treated like children.”
That conclusion is good for youth offenders and good for society.
Guards in the Ohio juvenile system are now called “youth specialists,” and school uniforms have replaced prison khakis. Offenders spend their days in a school setting and earn their high school diplomas.
Boys spend their spare time raising vegetables in greenhouses and tilapia in large tanks. The vegetables are donated to food banks for the poor, while the boys use the fish to learn cooking skills. (No girls are incarcerated in Ohio. They’re sent to “alternative venues,” akin to halfway houses.)
The move from punishment to rehabilitation came as a result of a 2004 lawsuit alleging that guards in the state's youth detention centers used excessive force. The state also faced accusations that it was failing to adequately train staff, educate incarcerated children, and provide enough health services. A federal judge oversaw the complete revamping of the state system.
The result is a national model for youth rehabilitation.
Where 1,800 children were incarcerated at the time of the lawsuit, there are now fewer than 500 locked up. Meanwhile, recidivism rates have declined steadily. This has been a boon for the state, for reformers, and for Ohio's taxpayers.
The research and policy organization In the Public Interest estimates that rehabilitation costs much less than incarceration. In Ohio, the tab for keeping people behind bars tops $25,000 per prisoner annually.
By contrast, community-based services for arrested teenagers cost just $1,000 a year, a bargain by comparison. So, in addition to other positive outcomes, the state can also point now to the $58 million it's saving on youth services.
How did Ohio succeed?
First, it put politics aside and invited a group of nationally recognized experts on juvenile prison reform to offer advice. Meanwhile, the federal judge who oversaw the process pushed both sides in the state legislature to work together and to keep progress on track.
Second, both former Democratic governor Ted Strickland and his Republican successor John Kasich invested in community corrections, which is more effective at targeting at-risk youth. And they insisted that local authorities keep the offenders' families involved in the process.
Third, the state hired psychologists and social workers, improved medical care, broadened career and technical opportunities, and did away with solitary confinement. Ohio's focus moved from prosecution and incarceration to rehabilitation and reform.
And it worked.
This is a lesson for all of us. Rehabilitation works. It's hard, and it takes time. But it works. And there's something in it for everybody -- safer streets, children with a second chance in life, and even lower taxes.
Available at Amazon.com:
- The Dangers of Big Philanthropy
- The Pentagon's $125-Billion Cover-up
- Local Courts in the United States
- Americans Think Fake News Has an Impact
- The Year of 'Post-Truth'
- American Cities With the Highest Murder Rates
- Only 5 Countries Have A Bigger GDP Than California
- Where It's Legal To Smoke Marijuana
- Drugs Killing More Americans Than Road Crashes
- America's Craft Beer Capitals
- Calling Working People of All Colors
- Pacifism, Just War and Civil Liberties in a Multicultural Age
- Why Our Kids Are Coming in Last Place
- Black Youth and Elusive Freedom
- Hidden Victims of Terrorism: Muslim Women in America
- Fighting Racism Where White Workers Are Hurting, Too
- Americans' Support For Legalizing Marijuana Reaches All-Time High
- Walling Them Out, or Walling Us In?
- Where America is Most Racially Diverse
- Zika Virus in the United States
- Counties With the Highest Obesity Rate
- Most Expensive Metro Areas to Live In
- Cities Where Coffee Costs the Most
- Cost of the Emergency Room
- FBI Overwhelmed by Terror Suspects
- States Most Concerned With Mosquitoes
- Orlando and the Future of Terrorism
- The Only Sane Conclusion from Orlando
- Orlando Shooting Fuels Debate on Gun Control
- Counties That Have Suffered the Deadliest Floods
- Which States Have Banned Assault Weapons?
- Orlando: Plenty of Blame to Spread Around
- They're Killing Us. Help Us Stop Them
- Our Poverty Myth
- The Pentagon Plans for War on Many Fronts
- U.S. Immigration Policies Are Ridiculous
- Stanford Rape Case Stands Out From Most Sexual Assaults
- The Civil War Didn't End Slavery After All
- As if PTSD, CTE, and Moral Injury Weren't Enough
- Jihad an Equal Opportunity Employer
- What if the U.S. Dismantled China's Internet Firewall?
- States With the Safest Drivers
- States With the Most Dangerous Drivers
- Counties Where Medicare Spends the Most per Patient
- Locations with the Highest Gas Prices
- The Government Agencies that Employ the Most People
- Why are 29 Million People Still Uninsured?
- The Increasingly 'High' Prevalence of Marijuana
- The Cost of Child Care in Every State
- Cost of Car Insurance In Every State
- Fear, Anger and Attitudes Toward Immigration
- Wealthy Americans Don't Need Panama to Hide Their Wealth
- States with the Highest Unemployment Rates
- 26 Facts About Guantanamo Bay
- Highest Cost Per Prisoner States
- These States Have the Most Prison Deaths
- The Death Gap
- The Richest Banks
- American Cities Most at Risk of Zika Virus
- Cities With the Highest Rent
- Cities With the Greenest Commutes
- Most Racism Is Mundane
- Imprisoned by Debt
- Russia is Withdrawing from Syria and the U.S. Should Follow Suit
- Can We Not End Wars Anymore?
- It's Literally Impossible to Deport 11 Million Immigrants
- When Islam Polices Extremists
- The Most Successful Companies Founded Since 1944
- States with the Highest Number of Death Row Inmates
- Places with the Highest Cost of Living
- Dying in Prison
- Ohio Proves Rehabilitation Works
- The United States of Flint
- The Cost of Gas the Year You Were Born
- States With the Most Undocumented Immigrants
- United States: An Aerospace Nation
- Complexity, Psychology, and Modern War
- 10 Good Things About the Not-So-Great Year 2015
- Defense Intel Analysis & Big Data
- The Global Militarisation Index
- Religious Politics & Illiberal Religion
- In Foreign Policy, Nature May Love a Vacuum
- What Comes After Empire for the United States?
- How American Military Bases Undermine National Security
- The Star Trek Fallacy
- Has the United States Worn Out Its Welcome Mat?
- Canada's Progressives Bid Good Riddance to Harper
- Tightening Whose Belt?
- Three Felonies a Day
- Reviving the North Korea-Iran Axis?
- The Pentagon Makes War on Alaska's Pristine Wilderness
- There's Still Time to Prosecute the Torturers
- The American Way of War in the 21st Century
- After Baltimore, a Call to Reclaim Mother's Day
- Yes, Black America Fears the Police
"Ohio Proves Rehabilitation Works "