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Bring Youth Home: Building on Ohio's Deincarceration Leadership

“In recent years, research has overwhelmingly shown the harmful effects of incarcerating children. In the short term, incarcerated children are subject to dangerous and abusive conditions, including physical abuse, sexual assault, and practices such as isolation, which can cause permanent psychological damage. These harmful conditions have been proven conclusively in 39 states. Long term, children who are locked up in juvenile correctional facilities are less likely to succeed in school or to find employment, and they are more likely to reoffend compared to similar children who are placed on probation or in alternative programs ... With current research on deincarceration and successes in Ohio and other jurisdictions, the question is not whether states should engage in deincarceration strategies, but how to best implement strategies that have been shown to reduce youth incarceration while maintaining public safety. This report will explore Ohio’s evolution of deincarceration programs and, based on Ohio’s experiences, discuss decision points and options that other states and localities should consider when implementing new or modifying existing deincarceration programs to create the most positive outcomes for youth and communities” (p. 3). Ohio's juvenile deincarceration strategies have helped to reduce the juvenile corrections population from 2,500 youth in 1992 to fewer than 500 in 2015. This publication is divided into five sections: introduction; creating a climate for change-the start of Ohio's deincarceration efforts; support for local efforts-Ohio's array of deincarceration programs, such as RECLAIM (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors)--two subsidy program and three competitive programs; putting it all together-coordinating and analyzing Ohio's efforts-eight findings; and four recommendations.