Using current research and evidence based programming the Allen County Juvenile Court has adopted a Community Control model that provides prevention, early intervention, diversion, presentence and official probation services.
Recognizing the potential negative impact of unnecessary juvenile justice interventions, recent reform efforts have focused on utilizing structured decision-making tools to guide disposition decisions, as well as developing alternative programs to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system when appropriate
(Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown University)
The department is divided into two units: Assessment and Services.
The Assessment Unit consists of four (4) probation officers plus a Deputy Chief Probation Officer. One of the probation officers is also appointed as the Training Coordinator for the department. This unit is responsible for intakes to probation, pre-dispositional reports, Court Assessment Service Team (C.A.S.T.) meetings, Domestic Violence C.A.S.T., supervising probation youth in the county schools, and monitoring youth on diversion.
The Services Unit consists of three (3) probation officers, a support officer plus a Deputy Chief Probation Officer. This unit is responsible for facilitating groups offered by the Community Control Department, which include, but are not limited to: Aggression Replacement Training (ART), National Curriculum & Training Institute (N.C.T.I.), Personal Responsibility Education Program (P.R.E.P.), Choices & Consequences, AOD Education and Parent Project. They are also responsible for supervising probation youth attending Lima City Schools, and monitoring youth on diversion. The Services Unit also coordinates the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Committee, the Title IV-E Placement program, the Community Service program and the School Success program for adjudicated truants. The department also includes the Director of Community Control and an Administrative Assistant.
As jurisdictions begin using structured decision-making tools to guide disposition decisions, an increasing number of youth are diverted to less restrictive, community-based programs
(Seigle et al.,2014)
Community Control Officers are engaged in community collaborations and organizations, such as Bradfield Centers Wellness and Tomorrow Projects. Through the Wellness program youth prepare healthy meals and talk about nutrition. The Tomorrow Project is a mentoring program which helps with developing skills that will help mentees succeed in school and the workplace. The program builds lasting relationships and support systems for high school youth at the same time giving them the opportunity to be exposed to different career paths and college/trade options.
As an active member of the Youth Commission, Community Control recognizes the huge need for safe, pro-social activities for young people in our community. Working together with representatives from the City of Lima, United Way of Greater Lima and the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Allen, Auglaize and Hardin Counties, the Youth Commission has implemented the ECCO program, an after-school offered at two locations in the city.
Community Control is also represented on the Lima Exchange Club. As an organization the Exchange club upholds three core values: Family, Community and Country with a special emphasis on reducing child abuse.
Each year, representatives from Community Control participate in Positive Addiction activities in Allen County parochial schools, presenting on a wide range of topics from suicide prevention to self-esteem and goal setting.
Community Control also sponsors a 4-H club for urban youth at its Elizabeth Street location. Offering an opportunity for project – based learning in the areas of cooking, gardening and robotics activities.
Family intervention is offered at all levels of involvement with the Community Control Department. The delivery of these services is through the C.A.S.T. (Court Assessment Services Team) process. This is a multi-disciplinary team brought together to address the needs of youth and families in Allen County. The team works together to provide brief interventions and referrals to treatment or other community resources to ensure youth are successful in their homes, community and schools. The process of C.A.S.T. works to divert youth completely away from the juvenile justice system or from further involvement with the system. C.A.S.T. has been in place since 2002, first as a response to Domestic Violence and then expanding to become the community’s wraparound response for youth and families.
Research suggests that upwards of 50% of youth arrested on DV charges have some history of involvement with the child welfare system – often including periods of out of home placement
( NCJJ) March 2015
C.A.S.T. meetings can be requested by parents, school representatives or by mental health or child welfare agencies. The multi-disciplinary team is comprised of the Court/Mental Health Liaison from Family Resource Center, (funded by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board), the Community Advocate/Liaison from Allen County Children Services Board and a Juvenile Court representative. The Juvenile Court has seen success with the C.A.S.T. process and also recognizes the extensive behavioral health needs of some of the youth and families in the County.
Research finds that for youth at lower risk of reoffending, the most effective strategy for juvenile courts and probation agencies is to abstain from interfering – in other words issue a warning and stay out of the way
(RA Mendel – 2018)
The Community Control Department provides diversion for status offenders and misdemeanor offenses, after a complaint has been filed with the Allen County Prosecutors office. The program also accepts first time felony complaints involving youth under the age of twelve. Participation in diversion is optional. However, the only other option is for the complaint to be filed and for the family to appear in Court on the matter.
All youth who participate in diversion are assessed to determine their risk level. The Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS) risk assessment is an instrument created by the University of Cincinnati to determine risk and needs in adolescent male and female offenders. It is based off of the concept of the Risk Principle, which is well established in research literature and states that offenders should be provided with a level of supervision and treatment which are commensurate with the offender’s risk level. There are three (3) levels of risk identified on the OYAS – Low, Moderate, and High. The MAYSI-2 (Massachusetts Youth Scoring Inventory – 2) is also administered; this is a mental health screening instrument.
Once the youth satisfies the recommendations listed on the behavioral agreement, they have successfully completed diversion. There is no formal record of involvement with the Court.
The requirements of the behavioral agreement can be highly individualized taking into consideration age, ability and the motivation behind the offense. In addition to a behavioral change intervention, emphasis is placed on engagement in prosocial activities. The Community Control Department has enjoyed a long partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Allen County, Bradfield Community Center and the YMCA, in addition to Behavioral Health agencies, such as Family Resource Center, S.A.F.Y. and UMADOAP. Research shows that the most effective diversion programs are those that least resemble official supervision.
What we know:
For the vast majority of youth, diversion is more effective at addressing delinquency than formal system processing
Diversion programs are more cost-effective than formal system processing
(National Juvenile Justice Network – December 2012)
A Pre-Dispositional Report (PDR), which is equivalent to a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) in the adult system, is ordered by the Judge or Magistrate to assist them in determining an appropriate disposition, based on the offense and the youth. A PDR is ordered at the discretion of the Judge or Magistrate, however it should be noted that he Court requires a PDR with every felony adjudication. The Court’s Community Control Department is responsible for completing the PDR. Officers meet with the youth and the family at least twice to complete the PDR process. There is an unofficial deadline of thirty (30) days to complete the PDR, though this deadline is flexible, depending on the youth or family situation.
A component of the PDR process is the Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS) risk assessment. The OYAS is an instrument used to determine risk and needs in adolescent male and female offenders. It is based off of the concept of the Risk Principle, which is well established in research literature and states that offenders should be provided with a level of supervision and treatment which are commensurate with the offender’s risk level. In a nutshell, it’s finding the porridge that is “just right”. There are three (3) levels of risk identified on the OYAS – Low, Moderate, and High.
When completing a PDR, an officer gathers detailed information on the youth and the family. The goal is to paint a picture of the youth on paper, looking at several aspects of the youth’s life. There is an emphasis placed on family and the level of support provided. Other factors evaluated are previous involvement in the justice system, whether official or unofficial, peer involvement, education and employment, pro-social skills, substance use and mental health.
Statistics reflect that, on average, the Community Control department completes approximately 85 reports a year.
Considered among the most important documents in the criminal justice field, the presentence investigation report has been the central source of information to sentencing judges since the 1920’s. Its original purpose was to provide information to the court on the defendant’s personal history and criminal conduct in order to promote individualized sentencing.
(Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice – January 1, 2008)
In addition, the Court periodically orders competency evaluations and / or psychiatric evaluations on youth with pending cases. When this occurs, the Community Control Department prepares the youth’s social history to provide to the evaluator. Social history reports are to be completed as soon as possible as the evaluator is given a deadline of approximately forty-five (45) days. Similar to the Pre-Dispositional Report, an officer assigned to complete the report will meet with the youth and the family in order to gather information and administer risk and needs instruments.
Probation supervision is the most common disposition made in delinquency cases. It is meant to take the place of incarceration. The goal is to work within the doctrine of the least restrictive alternative.
At intake onto probation the conditions of Community Control are reviewed, a MAYSI-2 (Massachusetts Youth Scoring Inventory-2) and the OYAS (Ohio Youth Assessment System) survey are also included. Corroborating information from involved school district and social service agencies is gathered. From this information an individualized case plan is developed and immediate referrals are made. The individualized case plan will allow Court workers to provide linkage and networking services which may include Therapy, Electronic Monitoring, Mentoring Services and small group counseling. In addition, the individualized case plan works to provide positive youth development activities and to foster success in school, as well as career preparation.
Probation officers should involve family members as primary partners not only in case planning, but also in all subsequent stages of probation. In doing so, probation officers should apply a broad definition of family engaging all adults with close ties who might be a resource to support a youth’s success, including parents or other guardians and extended family and surrogate family members who provide a “circle of care”
(Annie E. Casey Foundation)
When a youth is returned to Court for violations, they face eminent risk of removal from their home and possible placement in a facility designed for the residential care of the children when all other options have been exhausted. In extreme circumstances the Court may take custody of youth and place them into a therapeutic environment to address their immediate behavioral concerns.
Community Control Officers monitor compliance with court orders, as well as assist the child and family in improving the child’s overall condition. Routine contacts are accomplished through office visits, home visits, and school visits.
Recent research has begun to take the role of probation supervision in a new direction. For the most part, formal probation supervision is now reserved for those youth who pose significant risk to public safety, allowing for much smaller more manageable caseload size. A concentrated effort is made to offer family focused interventions that approach rehabilitation from a strengths based perspective of growth and
long-term success, rather than from a monitoring and surveillance perspective.
Community Control: Assessment & Services
MAYSI – Mental Health Screening (MAYSI-2) & Assessment is administered at intake for both diversionary and official supervision. Screening for mental health needs on early contact with youth in juvenile justice settings has become standard practice nationwide—at intake in probation, detention centers, or juvenile corrections programs. Identifying young people’s needs—substance use, trauma-related problems, and suicide ideation—is important at that initial contact. It‘s the first step for identifying those who need immediate attention and further assessment for mental health needs. The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI), currently is the most widely-used mental health screening tool in juvenile justice programs nationwide.
In many countries, policy makers, researchers and clinicians (e.g., Wasserman et al. 2003) now recommend mental health screening for every youth being detained to determine the need for emergency mental health services to avert crises (e.g., suicide risk) and comprehensive assessment (e.g., to examine if symptoms are indicative of a psychiatric disorder.
The Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument-Second Version (Grisso and Barnum 2006) was developed specifically to fill this void.
Linkage and referral to Mental Health Liaison or private provider as indicated – The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board funds the Mental Health/ Court Liaison position. All counseling and outside assessments are coordinated through the Liaison. The Liaison provides consultation and recommendations to the programmatic departments of the Court when dealing with high risk behavioral health and multi-system involved youth. Further, the Liaison provides behavioral health service coordination, as well as behavioral health screening, assessment, treatment and linkage services.
OYAS – Ohio Youth Assessment System – The Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) provides this specific juvenile justice assessment system. This new system was initially borne out of the RECLAIM study published in 2005. Based on the final report, it was clear that Ohio was in need of a risk/needs assessment that provided the juvenile justice system with a standardized process in evaluating the risk and criminogenic needs of the youth it served. As a result, DYS commissioned the University of Cincinnati (UC) to research and develop an assessment process. They received a grant from OJJDP to assist in funding the project. In order to develop the tools needed, UC worked collaboratively with a team that included DYS, juvenile courts, community corrections facilities, and community programs This team supplied insight and support to the project.
The Ohio Youth Assessment System is an assessment package that is designed to assist juvenile justice professionals in providing the most effective interventions for youth based on their likelihood to reoffend, criminogenic ( a system, situation or place causing or likely to cause criminal behavior) needs, and barriers to services, using the least restrictive alternative.
The Ohio Youth Assessment System was designed to assess risk, need, and responsivity factors of youth at each stage of the juvenile justice system. The OYAS provides a composite risk score that is designed to assist juvenile justice actors in making appropriate decisions regarding the treatment of youth.
(Prepared by the NIC Information Center September 2013)
Community Service Program: Periodically, the Juvenile Judge or a Magistrate will order a juvenile who has been adjudicated a delinquent, a number of community service hours for the juvenile to work without pay. Hours may also be given as a sanction by a Probation Officer. Community service is distinct from volunteering, since it is not always performed on a voluntary basis, and can be defined in many ways. For one, it can be described as unpaid work intended to be of social use that an offender is required to perform. Another definition might define community service as a non-paying job, performed by one person or a group of people, for the benefit of the community or its institutions. Personal benefits may be realized, but it may be performed for a variety of reasons, including citizenship requirements, a substitution of criminal justice sanctions, requirements of a school or class, and requisites for receipt of certain benefits.
The Allen County Juvenile Court Community Control Department has taken a hybrid view of what community service should be, as it pertains to our juveniles. The youth should be able to take something away from the experience and be able to use any newfound knowledge or interpersonal discoveries to improve his/her future servitude and the people around them. That is, we believe community service can have a lot of positive effects on all of those participating, such as helping them to develop skills, making contacts, interacting in a positive way with their peers, and allowing them to improve the quality of life for themselves and of others. We believe this approach will help them to become a better person, which in turn, makes them more of an asset to society. Learning and serving at the same time improves a person’s community while teaching life lessons and building character. This philosophy guides us in a direction toward providing opportunities for individuals to complete their service in a positive manner which will lead to a win-win situation for all. While it may not always be possible to accommodate an individual with this approach, our primary goal is to find settings which will enable individuals to gain something positive for themselves, while at the same time, provide a service for others.
Youth in the juvenile justice system need help, not punishment or stigma
(Beth McDaniel, Alabama Voices, 2017)
Community partners include but are not limited to the following:
- West Ohio Food Bank
- Habitat for Humanity (Restore)
- Bradfield Center
- Bluffton Recreation Center
- Our Daily Bread (Soup Kitchen)
- Allen East Community Center
“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them”
~ Magic Johnson, (www.parentingspecialneeds.org, 2018)
Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Initiative – The Court provides coordination for a community- based committee that works to address the overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system. The efforts of this group focus on the identification and implementation of methods and specific strategies to reduce DMC at a local level. This initiative coordinates public meetings, focus groups, trainings and presentations on racial equality and inclusion. The DMC committee also works to address deficiencies in the way race and ethnicity data is collected throughout the juvenile justice system.
One goal of DMC Committee is to reduce unnecessary incarceration of youth of color; and to provide the least restrictive level of supervision at the local level, if the youth is no longer a danger to themselves or the community. This group focuses on the identification and implementation of methods and specific strategies to reduce DMC and promote Diversion programs, or community-based alternatives.
Through the RRI (Relative Rate Index), data has shown minority youth were being misrepresented in Diversion programs and were more likely to be arrested and enter the juvenile justice system quickly. Various factors may have caused racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice with minorities living in jurisdictions with higher levels of policing and with criteria being structured to add to the disadvantage of minority groups. Allen County saw this as a problem and implemented changes to our previous Diversion program. In 2016, the RRI stated Allen County diverted 135 white youth, but only 74 minority youth. There were 103 minority youth arrested with 84 being petitioned to the Court. Our Diversion program today has made significant changes for the reduction of DMC. The Ohio Youth Assessment System/ Diversion Tool and the MAYSI-2 (Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument second Version) are part of Juvenile Court’s reconstruction of the Diversion program. Factors are based on recidivism, mental health, and risk rather than social and economic backgrounds. This has allowed more minority youth to be eligible for the program, with early interventions being put in place for minority youth to be successful in the community. DMC has partnered with Equity and Justice at the Center for Children’s Law out of Washington, DC, to provide Racial and Ethnic Disparities Training and Technical Assistance for surrounding agencies in Allen County. The Juvenile Court acknowledges the importance of cultural diversity training and implementing overall inclusion and diversity strategies to better serve our community.
SANKOFA Violence Prevention Program – The purpose of this program is to reduce weapons-related offenses and to increase school and community engagements. This project utilizes SANKOFA, a youth violence prevention program that embraces traditional African values of consciousness, caring, connectedness, character, competency, commitment and courage to minimize the involvement in gun related violence and to promote resiliency.
This program was chosen due to the propensity for gun violence among young African American males in our community, which has led to the disproportionate number of minorities committed to secure facilities. SANKOFA groups are administered once a week for 1.5 hours by a trained SANKOFA facilitator. To enhance SANKOFA services, the Court uses funds provided by the Ohio Department of Youth Services to contract with Nine Consulting Services, who in addition to facilitating the SANKOFA groups provides comprehensive case management services for the participants in the community.
Title IV-E Custody and Placement – Title IV-E of the Social Security Act provides federal matching funds to help states pay for foster care placements for children who meet federal eligibility criteria. In addition, the federal government pays 50% of the cost of administering the Title IV-E program, such as salaries of caseworkers and administrator’s, office space, etc. and 75% of the training costs associated with the program.
This program provides the same assistance to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. The Court may assume responsibility for care and custody of a child as a dispositional alternative, when it is determined a youth’s delinquent behavior requires extensive, specialized treatment or the delinquent behavior can be linked to a parents unwillingness or inability to help provide a supportive home environment to bring about behavior change.
When the Court assumes custody, the Community Control Department locates an appropriate placement and monitors the youth’s progress. The Community Control Department is responsible for determining Title IV-E eligibility and for maintaining all required documentation within SACWIS (Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System). This includes, but is not limited to, the Individualized Child Care Agreement, Case Plans and Case Plan Reviews, Court Orders, Visitation Schedules and all billing information.
Allen County Juvenile Court has participated in the program since 2007, in order to bring much needed revenue back to the community. The Community Control Department currently uses this federal reimbursement to offset the cost of the rental space in which the Community Control Office is located, enhance the training budget for staff in order to ensure Community Control Officers are trained in the most current juvenile justice practices and to provide individual assistance to youth and families, as needed. Placement costs incurred for youth in need of highly specialized treatment are also funded by the Title IV-E reimbursement program.
The juvenile justice system must acknowledge that adolescents function very differently than adults
(OJJDP, 2015; Steinberg, 2009)
Treatment and accountability must differentiate between what is appropriate for an adult versus an adolescent
(OJJDP, 2015; Steinberg, 2009)
Understanding adolescent development can help professionals with more effective interaction and communication with youth
(Butts et al., 2010; OJJDP 2015)
Curriculum Based Programming Fire-setters Program – This program is a collaborative effort between the Community Control Department, mental health agencies and local fire departments. Referrals to the program are made by the Court, the County Prosecutor, parents, schools or local fire departments. Juvenile Fire-setters Programs utilize the same basic components; they include a juvenile and family interview, future fire risk determination, fire safety education and referral to mental health professionals when appropriate(2012).
The Mental Health Liaison meets with the youth and family and conducts a Juvenile Fire Setting Assessment. From that assessment, referrals can be made to mental health services. There is linkage to a local fire department which provides the youth with educational and awareness programming. Although the fire departments will take the lead role, their efforts alone will not resolve the problem. It is crucial that there be a working relationship established between the community agencies. The fire department, prosecutor’s office, Juvenile Court/Community Control, mental health professionals and schools must all communicate with one another so that an organized effort is established to reduce youth involvement in fire-setting and arson-related activities.
Reentry of Local Youth (RELY) – The Community Control Department partners with the Ohio Department of Youth Services, as well as numerous agencies in the area, to help provide youth returning home with needed services. RELY meets bi-monthly to discuss youth that may be reintegrating back in to the community from facilities such as ODYS, CCF’s or Placement, in hopes to establish services that will allow them to continue on a positive path. These services can include, but are not limited to, education, counseling, employment assistance and relapse preventions/ treatment programs.
Carey Guides: Research demonstrates that traditional methods of supervision are ineffective in reducing recidivism among adult and juvenile offenders. For behavior change and recidivism reduction to be possible, offenders must understand the personal and environmental factors underlying their offending behavior and be taught the skills they need in order to make positive changes in the future. The Carey Guides are designed to equip corrections professionals with the information and tools they need to support these changes among their clients.
Each Guide follows a consistent format. Background information provides the corrections professional with important research findings and contextual information to support the application of evidence-based approaches. Each Guide also contains two to five Tools (worksheets). These Tools are designed for use by offenders—with the assistance of their corrections professional—to understand and address risk factors, triggers, and other conditions that are essential to their success. In total, the Guides contain 98 Tools that correction professionals can use as they work with offenders to address their skill deficits and make positive changes in their lives.
Carey Guides are used in both group settings and one-on-one appointments with the youth and the Court worker. They are used with youth placed on formal probation, as well as an intervention for youth on the Court’s diversion program.
Aggression Replacement Training (ART): Aggression Replacement Training (ART) offers a comprehensive intervention program designed to teach adolescents to understand and replace aggression and antisocial behavior with positive alternatives. ART provides a coordinated, three-part training approach: Prosocial Skills, Anger Control and Moral Reasoning.
I think it’s important for us as a society to remember that the youth within juvenile justice system are, most of the time, youths who simply haven’t had the right mentors and supporters around them because of circumstances beyond their control
(Q’orianka Kilcher Quotes. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved December 20, 2019)
Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): The Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) is a statewide initiative aimed to reduce teen pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections in the state of Ohio for youth 14-19 years of age residing in foster care and the juvenile justice systems.
Reducing the Risk (RTR), the evidenced-based curriculum, is the foundation for the pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted disease prevention education curriculum. Other topics include: Healthy Relationships, Financial Literacy Education and Career Success
AOD Awareness Program: The AOD Awareness educational class enlightens youth and their families on the dangers of drugs and alcohol use. It also assists on identifying signs and symptoms of abuse.
Research shows that the primary influence (or lack thereof) for a youth stems from a stable family or home environment. Unfortunately, some family units (no matter how they might be defined in today’s world) do not effectively function due to physical or emotional abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and /or lack of interest by the parents or guardians in the children’s lives.
Department of Juvenile Justice
AOD uses a tool called True Lies by Phil Chalmers. This tool addresses several relevant topics that students are encountering in today’s world as they navigate through middle school and high school. In the curriculum, he focuses on self-esteem, respecting others, substance abuse, drunk driving, tobacco use, dangers of bullying, crime prevention, school violence, self-abuse, suicide, role models, sexting, and more. Chalmers has designed his message for the tech-driven generation and hopes to challenge students to consider the decisions they make over the next several years, while at the same time providing truth and consequences for their decisions. True Lies aims to dismantle lies of our culture by providing guidance, truth, and hope.
AOD also uses an educational power-point tool created by Marjean Warren, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor and former Drug Court Coordinator for the Allen County Juvenile Court. This tool provides insight into the Phases of Addiction, impairment versus addiction, health concerns and withdrawal symptoms.
Moral Recognation Therapy (MRT): Moral Recognation Therapy (MRT) is a systematic treatment strategy that seeks to decrease recidivism among juvenile and adult criminal offenders by increasing moral reasoning. Its cognitive-behavioral approach combines elements from a variety of psychological traditions to progressively address ego, social, moral, and positive behavioral growth, to foster moral development in treatment-resistant clients.
National Corrective Training Institute (NCTI): NCTI is nationally known for its Crossroads cognitive curricula, which target criminogenic needs and risk levels. The Allen County Juvenile Court began using this evidence-based program in 1989, which provides offenders with the opportunity to acquire skills to change behavior in a pro-social way, which results in reducing recidivism. Community Control officers, trained as facilitators, use this program with youth on probation, as well as diversion.
Parent Intervention Program: Parent Intervention program is designed specifically for parents who are raising strong-willed, difficult, or out of control children. The program assists in reducing family conflict, juvenile crime and recidivism; along with improving both school performance and attendance. The program uses material from the Parent Project curriculum along with other parenting resources. It is important to recognize that no family is the same. We all have a different family dynamic, whether we are a nuclear family, single parent family, extended family, step family, or grandparent family. While some dynamics are familiar to us, how we function at home as a family can be drastically different from one family to another.
The program provides tools to families facing stressful situations a way to address issues in a healthy way. The goal of the program is to strengthen the family, no matter the dynamic, and empower them to improve the quality of their lives together as a whole. While also educating them about the community supports offered in the area and allowing them to find comfort in the fact that they are not alone.