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Research and Support for Retaining Ohio Youth in the Juvenile Justice System Grows: New Report and Resolution Call on Ohio to Continue Efforts to Keep Youth Out of Adult Court

Posted in 2013, Research & Policy Thursday, 19 December 2013

Columbus, OH – On December 17th, the Children’s Law Center, Inc. released an updated report on Ohio youth in the adult criminal justice system; this report updates the original Falling Through the Cracks report issued in May 2012.  The report covers developments on youth in adult court both nationally, including the U.S. Supreme Court holding in Miller v. Alabama that youth cannot be sentenced to mandatory life without parole, and in Ohio, where the legislature passed SB 337 to keep youth out of adult jails.

New Ohio data in the report shows that Ohio bindover numbers have dropped 43% over the past four years to a historic low of 205 youth in FY12. Several counties had significant bindover reductions, including Butler, Clark, Cuyahoga, and Hamilton counties. The report also finds that bindover practices differ significantly between counties, including what types of offenses are considered serious enough for a youth to be sent to adult court, how attorneys become qualified to represent youth in bindover proceedings, and what data is collected on these cases. Given these differences between counties, the report recommends that Ohio stakeholders engage in a collaborative, comprehensive effort to address issues facing youth in the adult criminal justice system and build on existing efforts to retain these youth in juvenile court.

In addition, over 35 Ohio organizations and individuals signed onto a resolution calling for Ohio youth to remain in the juvenile justice system instead of being sent to adult court. The signatories represent a wide range of stakeholders, including the Ohio Parent Teacher Association, the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

“In the past year, Ohio has taken significant steps in line with national best practices to keep youth in juvenile court and out of adult court, jails, and prisons. Ohio now has a unique opportunity to build on these successes by engaging in a comprehensive, statewide effort to reduce the number of youth in adult court to make both youth and communities safer,” said Kim Tandy, Executive Director of the Children’s Law Center, Inc.

The report, an executive summary of the report, and a copy of the resolution are available at http://www.childrenslawky.org/.