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s.h. V Strickrath Oh Youth Community Corrections Facilities Report Roush 2007

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Appendix C

Community Corrections Facilities: S.H. v. Strickrath
Footnote Material for Fred Cohen

by

David Roush, PhD
5 Locust Court
Albion, MI 49224
517.629.8750
roush@msu.edu

October 19, 2007

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Community Corrections Facilities: S.H. v. Strickrath

I.

Background

The following are impressions based on my visits to the Northern Ohio Juvenile
Community Corrections Facility in Sandusky and the Multi-County Juvenile Attention
Center and Community Corrections Center in Canton on October 10-11, 2007. Shelly
Fitzhugh and John Ward, Director of Community Corrections Programs, accompanied
me on these site visits.
II.

Assessment Strategy

Both visits began at 9:00 a.m. and ended by 3:00 p.m. The visits contained five
activities:
1.

An entrance interview with administrative staff to explain the reason for the
community correction facility (CCF) visit and to hear the facility administration
describe the nature and extent of its programs and services,

2.

A tour of the facility conducted by youth,

3.

A structured interview with one group of 6-8 residents per facility using questions
from the youth interviews at the JCFs,

4.

Interviews with one group of four line workers (JCO equivalents) from each
facility using questions from the JCFs, and

5.

An exit interview with administrative staff regarding staff training services and
follow-up questions from the first four components.

III.

Findings and Impressions

Both facilities appear to operate very good treatment programs, and this elicited
several constructive exchanges and discussions of programs and services. In all, both
visits were quite pleasant. My initial impressions lead me to believe that more treatment
is occurring at these two community corrections facilities than at any of the juvenile
corrections facilities (JCFs).

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A.

Staffing

Even though staff credentials are similar to the JCFs for the line staff positions
and the therapists (counselors, social workers, and caseworkers), there are two noticeable
differences at both facilities. First, the living units are small. The Multi-County CCF has
two 12-bed units (total capacity of 24), and the Northern Ohio CCF has two 12 bed units
and one six bed unit for a total capacity of 30.
Second, staffing patterns are substantially different than the JCFs. Both CCFs
operate below a 1:12 ratio of direct care staff to youth. Both facilities are prohibited from
counting middle managers and counselors (social workers and caseworkers) in the 1:12
ratio. If the facility has a supervising direct care worker (JCO), that individual may be
counted in the 1:12 ratio. This is a distinct difference between CCFs and JCFs regarding
staffing patterns.
Given this staff count strategy, both CCFs operated near a 1:8 ratio. For example,
Northern Ohio has two youth leaders and a youth leader supervisor on each waking hour
shift for a maximum capacity of 30 youth. This equates to a 1:10 ratio; however, on the
day of the assessment there were only 25 youth in residence (a ratio of 1:8.3).
For Multi-County, there are three youth specialists (JCOs) assigned to each
waking hour shift. Administration indicated that it never goes over capacity, so the staff
ratio never exceeds 1:8.
Ironically, both institutions have counselors, recreation therapists, unit managers
on the living units at various times during waking hour shifts, and these support staff
would be included in the staffing ratio at a JCF.
B.

Other Effectiveness Factors

These CCFs present programs and operations that correspond very closely with
the type of intervention expected from a correctional intervention. In addition to a
sufficient number of good staff, several additional factors contribute to success:
1. All youth have their own rooms; there is no double occupancy. Stated differently,
both CCFs operate at or below rated capacity.
2. Residents from both facilities were polite, well-mannered, and thoughtful, indicating
the acquisition of necessary social skills. The vast majority of youth in both groups
indicated that the treatment programs were effective, that they provided useable
tools, and that staff were a big help in encouraging youth to change their behaviors.
3. At both facilities, all youth and staff interviewees indicated that fights hardly ever
occur and no one could recall the last time there was a physical restraint. Both
groups spoke favorably about the other.

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4. It is important to note that the average length of stay for each program was less than
nine months. Staff noted that there is a phenomenon with many youth where they
peak in terms of cognitive and behavioral changes, and it is important to release
youth at or near the peak. This sensitivity to release being linked to changes in the
youth are clearer in the CCFs than the JCFs.
5. In both facilities, residents and staff indicated that both groups occasionally use
profanity, but there is no use of profanity directed toward an individual.
6. The school program at the Northern Ohio facility could serve as a model. The
computer classroom contains the Virtual Learning Academy, a computer assisted
instructional program linked to the public schools. Successful completion of various
modules translates into academic credit in the public schools. One youth talked
about how he spends additional hours every week on the program, how he has caught
up with his class, and how he is on schedule for graduation. This type of
arrangement instills hope. Each youth commented about how beneficial the Virtual
Learning Academy was in maintaining high school graduation as a viable goal.
There needs to be some type of equivalent program offered at the JCFs.
7. The CCFs follow the Missouri model of small facilities (less than 50 beds), small
living units (fewer than 20 youth), and a reasonable staff ratio (1:8). In the presence
of good programs, competent therapists (all are licensed in Ohio), and a stable and
caring direct care staff, it is not surprising that the recidivism study of the CCFs by
the University of Cincinnati indicates that recidivism is around 20%.
8. Neither CCF reported a skimming or creaming strategy to select only the best kids
and to weed out potential troublemakers. Clearly, those youth with substantial
histories of violence appear to go directly to DYS; however, there are a substantial
number of youth in DYS who could benefit from the CCF programs. Likewise,
replication of the CCF model could help reduce the overcrowding in the JCFs.
9. Aftercare represents a concern for both facilities. DYS does not provide aftercare
services, so reentry activities are the responsibility of the youth’s juvenile court
probation officer. As a result, there is little consistency in reentry services. Typical
of descriptions of probation officers, most staff complained that youth rarely see their
probation officer between the commitment to the CCF and a month or so before
release.
10. Training occurs regularly, but the size of the facilities creates the litany of problems
associated with efforts to training small numbers of staff. In both facilities, staff have
been trained as trainers to expand the amount of training hours produced annually.

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IV.

Summary

If these CCFs are representative of the types of programs and services available
through all CCFs, the community corrections programs are a positive factor in the
juvenile justice system’s efforts to rehabilitate youthful offenders.
Each facility possesses the program ideas and materials to handle a larger population of
youth. The dilemma is the same as the one currently plaguing DYS: Population or
capacity expansion without the addition of new beds and new staff will result in
overcrowding and understaffing, which will scuttle program effectiveness measures and
outcomes.

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