DeWine establishes task force to look at Ohio's youth corrections system
Gov. Mike DeWine announced that the state has formed a task force to examine, and propose solutions to, problems within the state’s juvenile justice and corrections system.
Dubbed the Ohio Juvenile Justice Working Group, the panel will look at both the Department of Youth Services statewide and its county partners, many of which oversee youth prisons. It will eventually assemble recommendations on everything from physical safety to reentry programs to health services, including mental health.
"The extent of the look will be really determined by the working group themselves," DeWine said. "But I'm asking them to look at issues having to do with population, issues having to do with workforce, ratios between the number of people who are in the system as well as the number of people who are working."
But staffing woes are of major concern, DeWine told reporters Monday afternoon as he outlined the priorities of the new task force.
"Not only the difficulty of recruiting staff, but frankly, the difficulty in keeping staff," DeWine said.
Although DeWine did not directly cite it, his announcement to establish the panel came days after The Columbus Dispatch and its affiliated papers published a lengthy investigation into the system. That investigation highlighted a system that is often chaotic and plagued by understaffing and recidivism.
Current and former juvenile judges and prosecutors were named to serve on the task force, assisted by four state lawmakers. They include:
- Judge Anthony Capizzi, a retired Montgomery County juvenile court judge
- Gabriella Celeste, policy director for the Schubert Center for Child Studies
- Melissa Day, juvenile division chief for the Stark County Prosecutor's Office
- Judge Amy Lewis, the Greene County juvenile court judge
- Judge David Stucki, a retired Stark County juvenile court judge
Tom Stickrath, a former director of both the Department of Youth Services and Department of Public Safety, will serve at the helm of the panel as chair. It has yet to schedule its first meeting, according to a release from the governor's office.