Saturday, August 14, 2004

Full text of the plan


To: Governor Bob Taft
From: Geno Natalucci-Persichetti
Date: August 13, 2004
Subject: Corrective Plan to Address Conditions of Confinement Issues at DYS Facilities

In response to your recent request, I present to you this detailed plan of action to address issues we have identified at both the Scioto and Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facilities.

Allegations regarding conditions of confinement at Scioto JCF were brought to our attention many months ago, and DYS has been working on addressing these issues since then. In any incident that has been substantiated, the department has moved quickly to correct the problem, including implementing immediate policy changes and, when necessary, terminating staff.

The department has always addressed inappropriate staff relationships with youth seriously, both administratively and legally. We have done everything we can to ensure the removal and support the prosecution of any individuals that we find involved with juveniles incarcerated with the department.

Although sexual incidents between youth have declined over the past couple of years, occurrences of this nature are completely unacceptable. While we have been vigilant and have taken steps to correct the problems, we realize that more needs to be done. To that end, I submit in the attached report specific remediation of issues identified at the two facilities. We will also move forward with the following initiatives, all of which will have a positive impact at all of our facilities:

  • We will hire an attorney to provide access to courts for youth in all DYS facilities. This legal service will address conditions of confinement that violate the youth's rights and have not been remedied through the grievance process. An attorney will be hired on an interim basis to begin the program. This attorney will visit and be available to youth at all of the facilities on a regular basis. Once we have determined the workload we will put out for bid a RFP to contract this legal service.
  • We will hire an ombudsperson or youth advocate. This person would be responsible for acting on behalf of the youth to see that their grievances are being processed and addressed at all levels. They would also be responsible for training all youth and staff on how to utilize the grievance process.
  • We will hire a Compliance Administrator to oversee the improvement processes on the conditions of confinement initiatives. This person will report to the Director and will monitor the quality of life and life safety issues at all of the facilities as well as determine compliance by each facility. The Compliance Administrator will also monitor departmental policies and American Correctional Association Standards, recommend remedies to correct deficiencies of conditions of confinement, generate and monitor reports for each DYS facility to establish measurable criteria for upgrading programs and practices on a continuing basis, and ensure approved corrective action plans have been implemented at the facilities.
  • Lastly we will have continuous system wide training and updates on grievance procedures, youth discipline policies, appropriate use of restraint techniques and youth rights.
As little as one week ago, the National Youth Law Center, a party to the pending lawsuit against DYS, stated, "…we understand and appreciate that there has been progress in addressing various problems at Scioto..." The attached report describes how we are going to continue that progress, address specific issues at Scioto and Circleville, and improve operations system-wide.

We appreciate your support in this effort and will keep you apprised of our progress.

DYS Initiatives

I. Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility

Recent Actions
DYS is in the process of restructuring administration and management positions at Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility based on the needs of the female population, existing vacancies and inadequacies of previous members of staff.

  • A Program Deputy Superintendent position was created and filled as of March 1, 2004 and in place to specifically address issues with the female youth population.
  • An additional psychologist position has been posted to better serve the female population. This will be a total of four psychologists for 125 girls. A potential hire will be made within 30 days.
  • For closer supervision of the female population, one Unit Manager has been assigned to each unit and one Unit Administrator assigned for every two units.
  • An extra Social Worker position and Social Work Supervisor position was created for the female population.
  • A Special Education Teacher was hired specifically for the female population.
  • The Operations Administrator, Labor Relations Officer, Business Office Manager, Personnel Officer have been replaced with new staff.
  • Mandatory overtime for Juvenile Corrections Officers has not been used since early July.
  • DYS is conducting meetings with the union leadership for possible modification of the current "pick-a-post" agreement to insure stability and consistency on the living units.
  • The Administrative Duty Officer (facility administrator in charge) is now required to visit every area of the facility per shift, including mealtimes and JCO Roll Calls, and work four hours on the weekend. In addition, written reports must be submitted to the Superintendent on a weekly basis.
  • Additional youth grievance boxes have also been installed throughout the facility to improve youth access to the grievance procedure.
  • All employees assigned to the female population have received specialized training designed to enhance the ability of staff to supervise juvenile females with mental health issues. To date, forty hours of training by a national expert, Dr. Lisa Boesky, has been given to all staff assigned to work with female youth. This will continue on a regular basis.
  • The use of a problematic restraint technique, which caused injuries to female youth, has ceased. A new Response to Resistance policy has been developed for the female population to alleviate injuries caused by the previous procedure. The previous restraint policy had initially been approved for use by the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Section.
  • The Facility Rules of Conduct for youth has been modified, specifically allowing youth to converse during mealtimes and to prohibit Juvenile Corrections Officers (JCOs) from making youth walk with their hands behind their backs.
  • A new facility master schedule has been put in place to increase school hours and youth activity time.
  • A "parents day" program has been initiated to enhance family support for the female population.
  • A youth work program for female youth who have graduated or received their GED was reinstated. That program was initially in place when girls were housed at Scioto previously. These jobs include clerical, maintenance, food service, grounds keeping and sanitation. The youth receive 50 cents per hour for their work.
Short-Term Solutions (3 - 6 months)
  • DYS will hire two additional treatment services personnel and will begin an internship program with The Ohio State University to assist psychology services. This will result in better coverage provided to youth with mental health issues. This includes getting graduate social work and psychology interns.
  • Ensure that newly hired social workers hold a license and/or accreditation (LPC, LSW)
  • In order to more effectively assist youth in obtaining access to the courts, signs will be posted in every living unit of every facility informing youth of their rights and access to courts.
  • The department will also begin a process to send a letter to the incarcerated youth's parents at the beginning of custody, informing them of youth's rights and access to legal counsel.
  • Treatment Teams are being organized on each unit consisting of a Deputy Superintendent, psychology staff, Juvenile Corrections Officers, Social Workers, Unit Managers, Unit Administrators, medical staff and teachers to better address the needs of each and every youth. Plans will include treatment team meetings, consisting of all Unit staff, to discuss treatment plans, failures, successes and progress for each youth.
  • A Facility Youth Counsel is being organized with two youth from each unit who will meet with members of management, bargaining unit and administration to discuss and resolve concerns.
  • By the end of August, construction will begin to upgrade the much needed security camera system.
  • The role of the Social Work Supervisor will be streamlined to allow for more direct treatment of youth and less administrative duties.
  • Air conditioning for the girls' gym and school has been approved and work will commence within 60 days.
  • A new youth level system will be implemented by Sept 1. This system will provide increased incentive for positive, responsible behaviors.
Long-Term Solutions (6 months - 2 years)
  • DYS will contract with an independent law firm that would be solely dedicated to having staff on-site in DYS' correctional facilities to assist youth in addressing appeals and conditions of confinement.
  • The department will increase staff training regarding conditions of confinement and an incarcerated youth's rights. A mentoring program will be explored to facilitate this training and bring a greater understanding to new employees.
  • The female youth population would be better served with increased space for education and vocational programs. These vocation programs are the most crucial for improvement of self-worth and preparation for life outside the facility.
  • Maximize the usage of bed-space in local Community Correctional Facilities (run by counties under RECLAIM Ohio funding) to alleviate overcrowding in all DYS facilities.
  • A separate facility should be built for the female population. Currently, the co-ed situation at Scioto is manageable, but requires intense supervision and scheduling.
II. Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility

Recent Actions As a result of the following initiatives from calendar year 2002 to the present, the incidents of alleged consensual sex between youth has been reduced by 50%.

  • A level system has been developed to promote positive youth behavior and progress in the sex offender program, through increased privileges and sanctions for youth conduct.
  • A disciplinary grid has been created for all misconduct and the department has ranked sexual misconduct as the most severe. Because of its severity, each sexual incident is handled in the following way:
    1. The youth(s) involved are immediately placed in secure seclusion.
    2. A behavior report and incident report is issued.
    3. The Institutional Disciplinary Hearing committee reviews each report.
    4. The level of the youth, which indicates his privileges within the facility, is dropped to our lowest score of 0 for a minimum of 45 days. The lowering of the score reduces the youth's privileges such as reduced group activities and a later bedtime.
    5. A Special Management Plan (SMT) is written by their social worker and signed by the Superintendent. The SMT outlines specific responsibilities the youth will be required to complete to move out of a Level 0 status. There are immediate sanctions if requirements are not completed within the timeframe established in the SMT.
    6. If the allegation is proven, additional time is added to the youth's sentence with a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 6 months.
  • A room assignment instrument has been developed to evaluate and determine which youth share a room with another youth and to identify those that should be in single rooms.
  • A focus on in-service training, which involves all staff in a Back-To-Basics approach, has been implemented to help prevent serious incidents from occurring.
  • Treatment teams have been created for each unit consisting of staff from all disciplines in the facility having direct contact with the youth. These teams evaluate a youth's progress in sex offender programming and their behavior. This allows staff to reward or remove levels of privileges consistent with the performance of the youth.
Short-Term Solutions (3 - 6 months)
  • Juvenile Correctional Officers will increase the number of rounds they must complete while in the living unit. To ensure compliance by staff, a login sheet will be required to be signed and time dated by staff making the rounds. In addition, an administrative level employee will review these logs twice during an eight-hour shift.
  • Administrative Duty Officer (facility administrator in charge) is now required to visit every area of the facility, including mealtimes and JCO Roll Calls, and work four hours on the weekend. In addition, written reports must be submitted to the Superintendent on a weekly basis.
  • A revised sex offender program will be fully implemented by the end of October, 2004. It will double the current amount of programming given to youth and will separate programs into three specific phases, with the final phase being reintegration back into the community.
  • Youth exhibiting non-compliant behavior of facility rules will be segregated into a new, special unit.
  • In September 2004, in-service staff training will focus on sex offender programming and the appropriate use of the level system. This will include new standards and procedures to address verbal and physical abuse.
  • DYS will begin to attach Position-Specific Minimum Qualifications (PSMQ) to any vacancies that occur in the facilities. Under this solution, licensure would be required to obtain the position.
  • A monetary supplement will be offered to employees working in social work positions to create an incentive to get licensed. This monetary incentive could be used by the employee to offset education and testing costs. This will have to be negotiated with the SEIU-1199.
Long-Term Solutions (6 months - 2 years)
  • Three new living units at Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility (ORVJCF) will open. This will enable a significant amount of sex offenders to be placed in single rooms.
  • Develop and implement an in-house training/accreditation program for staff (including JCOs) working with sex offenders. This training will address the staff's role and responsibilities in reporting sexual activity among youth.
  • Maximize the usage of bed-space in Community Correctional Facilities to alleviate overcrowding in DYS facilities.

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