Ohio youth prisons battle staff, youth problems
A year has passed since a federal judge approved a settlement that required the Ohio Department of Youth Services to change what a consultant determined was a culture of violence within the agency’s prison facilities. Among the problems that have continued since that May 21, 2008, settlement:
Excessive use of force by staff. Records show nine occasions when the department found guards used excessive force or inappropriate restraints when disciplining youth. The agency cleared guards of allegations of inappropriate force in nine other incidents.
Excessive force incidents:
—March 6, Marion Juvenile Correctional Facility: guard used an unauthorized technique when he put his arm around a youth’s neck while trying to gain control.
—Jan. 16, Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility, Franklin Furnace: guard used unwarranted force when he grabbed a youth’s arm.
—Jan. 11, Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility, Highland Hills: guard used an unauthorized restraint technique when he used his knee to hold down an unruly youth.
—Jan. 9, Ohio River Valley facility: guard used inappropriate force when he hit a youth in the face.
—Jan. 5, Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility: guard used inappropriate force against a youth by shoving him and causing him to fall down then used an unauthorized technique when he grabbed the youth’s arm and threw him to the ground.
—Dec. 20, Cuyahoga Hills facility: guard used inappropriate force when she hit a youth in the face.
—Dec. 20, Cuyahoga Hills facility: a different guard responding to the same situation used an unauthorized technique on a different youth.
—Dec. 16, Marion facility: guard reacted to a youth inappropriately with unnecessary force, threats and intimidation.
—Oct. 4, Cuyahoga Hills facility: guard violated agency rules when he threw a youth to the floor, then fell on top of him during a struggle.
Parole violations. Despite efforts to reduce the number of youthful offenders who commit crimes after leaving juvenile detention in Ohio, six youth on parole have been arrested since last May on charges they killed someone.
—A teen paroled from the Marion facility on May 29 arrested for a homicide in Cleveland July 14.
—A teen paroled from Indian River Juvenile Correctional in Massillon on Nov. 9 arrested for a homicide in Toledo Dec. 28.
—A teen paroled from the Cuyahoga Hills facility on Jan. 17 arrested for a homicide in Cleveland Feb. 24.
—A teen paroled from the Cuyahoga Hills facility on Feb. 20 arrested for a homicide in Columbus March 12.
—A teen paroled from the Indian River facility on Dec. 27 arrested for the same March 12 homicide.
—A teen paroled from the Marion facility on Oct. 9 arrested for an unrelated homicide on March 12, also in Columbus.
Institutional violence. The Ohio State Highway Patrol has investigated hundreds of alleged incidents of violence at the state’s seven facilities, including fights between youths, guards assaulting youth, youth assaulting guards, suicide attempts and rape. In 63 cases, youth were hospitalized after fights.
Some investigative figures, by facility:
—Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility, Delaware. The patrol opened 161 investigations on allegations ranging from fights to assaults to a teen accused of destroying his cell door. Reports indicated 40 cases of youth spitting on each other or guards in fights, and three fights serious enough to require stitches.
—Marion facility. Patrol opened 203 investigations, including allegations of 14 serious assaults and a large disturbance April 18 involving 41 youths in a gang-related fight that sent one guard to the hospital. On Dec. 29, a youth in a social worker’s office was accused of pulling down his pants, grabbing the woman’s buttocks and blocking the door so she could not leave.
—Mohican Juvenile Correctional Facility, Perrysville. Patrol opened 52 investigations, including allegations of 18 fights after which youth victims had to be taken to the hospital.
—Cuyahoga Hills facility. Patrol opened 114 investigations, including allegations of 18 serious assaults that involved four instances where youth required stitches. State police are investigating the April 29 death of a guard who died of injuries sustained on duty.
—Ohio River Valley facility. Patrol opened 65 investigations, including six allegations of serious assaults, 18 allegations of youth spitting on guards and 14 allegations of youth attacking guards, including a youth accused of repeatedly hitting a guard in the face when his cell door was opened.
—Circleville facility. Patrol opened 164 investigations, including allegations of four serious assaults, along with one case where a youth is accused of kicking a water fountain off the wall causing a unit to flood, and another incident in which a youth is accused of kicking a window out of a classroom.
—Indian River facility. Patrol opened 27 investigations, including allegations of two serious assaults and five fights after which injured youths required stitches.
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