How Ohio Went from Investing in Youth Prisons to Investing in Youths’ Futures

New report from the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio highlights Ohio’s successful juvenile justice initiatives involving the research, evaluation, and quality assurance work of the Begun Center.

Over the past two decades, Ohio has significantly reduced its state youth prison population while simultaneously boosting public safety, improving youth outcomes and saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. In 2000, the average daily population in Ohio’s state-run juvenile prisons was 2,030. In 2015, the average daily population was 470. A recent report from the Juvenile Justice Coalition of Ohio describes these successes and shares key findings and recommendations aimed at helping state leaders across the country follow in Ohio’s footsteps.

“What’s most impressive about Ohio is that it has taken funds saved from reducing its prison population and reinvested them,” says Nate Balis, the director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. “It has also pushed counties to employ effective research-informed program models and invested in careful evaluation studies to measure results.”

The report, “Bring Youth Home: Building on Ohio’s Deincarceration Leadership,” highlights RECLAIM, an innovative reform launched in 1995 that flipped financial incentives to encourage courts and probation agencies to serve kids locally in lieu of committing them to state youth prisons.

Read the Building On Ohio’s Deincarceration Leadership report

“Bring Youth Home” also outlines three related initiatives rooted in evidence-based non-residential treatment programs designed to help Ohio continue to reduce its reliance on incarceration. The Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University provides critical evaluation and quality assurance activities for all three of these programs.