COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio announced the closing of another juvenile correctional facility Thursday as the number of young people sentenced to time in the state detention system continues to fall.
The shuttering of Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility in Delaware in central Ohio in May will leave the state with just three detention facilities. It had eight as recently as 2007.
The center, with a $28 million budget, houses only 38 young people, among them 18 girls, the only female youth under the agency's supervision. The state houses a total of 525 juveniles, down 160 from just two years ago.
The agency had nearly 1,300 young people in 2009, the year it closed facilities in Marion and another one in Delaware.
Scioto's 247 employees will be offered jobs within Youth Services, said agency spokeswoman Kim Parsell.
Budget savings will be passed along to local programs and to the remaining three state facilities, Parsell said.
"As the number of youth served in our facilities continues to decrease, it allows us to reduce our costs and facility needs," Youth Services director Harvey Reed said in a statement.
The union representing many of the guards at the center called the closing unnecessary and dangerous. Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said the decision shuffles young people into already overcrowded local facilities.
Ohio has closed several juvenile detention facilities in recent years as more and more youths going through the court system are held in locally run centers in an effort to keep them closer to home. Statewide, about 5,000 children go through juvenile courts each year.
One result is that the state system has increasingly housed older and more violent youth, those individuals whose crimes or behavior weren't appropriate for local facilities. Handling these youth has presented challenges for the system, which for years was under a court mandate to end a culture of violence.
The state's remaining centers are Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility south of Columbus; Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility in suburban Cleveland; and Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility in Massillon in northeast Ohio.