"Ohio is at the forefront of national juvenile justice reform and realignment efforts and serves as a model for other states looking to “rightsize” their own institutional footprints by moving away from costly correctional placements to more effective, community-based options" (p. 1) "This brief documents the major strategies, events and conditions that created this fundamental and ongoing shift in how young people who enter the juvenile justice system are treated. While these efforts are still a work in progress, this milestone marks a critical fiscal realignment policy concerning the importance of creating and sustaining strategic investments in what works for justice-involved youth" (p. i). Sections of this report cover: beginnings; a shifting corrections footprint and the use of community corrections facilities (CCFs); timeline of major Ohio juvenile justice milestones and DYS (Department of Youth Services) initiatives; DYS state-local partnership with juvenile courts; alignment of key factors—facility closures, state budget, settlement agreement, and best practices—to advance what works; leveraging state policy to promote cost-effective outcomes; seizing opportunity in facility closure savings for long-term realignment and reinvestment—the evolution of RECLAIM (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors) to competitive grants; and next steps.
The instrumental use of evidence-based research for influencing the passage of reform efforts affecting the juvenile justice system in Ohio is explained. “Many states across the country face the challenges posed by young people in the juvenile justice system. Ohio is among the few states that has created and implemented innovative funding strategies and relied on research and evaluation to improve its approach” (p. i). Sections following an executive summary are: introduction—case study as a learning tool and overview of partners and policy change with a focus on child well-being; leveraging the policy window—political climate, juvenile justice landscape in Ohio pre-reform and key stakeholders; juvenile justice as a compelling social problem—the role of policy research in making the case for reform; agenda-setting and framing solutions to “invest in what works”—using research to inform a policy reform plan; spheres of influence model—core team and collaborative strategy for juvenile justice policy reform; juvenile justice policies achieved within House Bill 86 reflect research-based, child development, and well-being perspective; and principles and implications for future policy reform efforts.