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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Youth Development Center's closing marks change in juvenile justice approach

The shuttering of the county-run Youth Development Center in Hudson ends an era for a place that has served troubled youths for more than 100 years.

But it also marks a fundamental change in how the county's juvenile justice system will deal with kids who need a time-out from the community.

Previously, those youths - mostly probation violators who had committed crimes like burglary or domestic violence - were sent for months to the 453-acre campus in Summit County.

The change of scenery got some kids away from the city and bad neighborhood influences. But, in the end, they would return home. And that transition, studies showed, did not always go smoothly.

Under a new plan hammered out by county and Juvenile Court officials, juveniles convicted of lower-level offenses can be screened - much like foster children are - and sent to private agencies in Cuyahoga County for up to 90 days of treatment.

Some will be in secure facilities, others in less-restrictive settings.

The county has agreed to spend about $5 million a year on treating 300 juveniles in this way.

The court also has promised to go after available federal money to pay for some of the placements. [Mark Godsey]

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