INdiana Systemic Thinking

March 16, 2008

DOC Makes Improvements At Girls School

Remember back in December when I posted this about St. Joseph County Judge Peter Nemeth? The story then was he refused to send female juveniles to the Indiana Girls School for a variety of complaints.

Well, today’s South Bend Tribune is reporting the Department of Corrections is making some staffing changes that are encouraging to Nemeth. Specifically;

The DOC has announced it will end a two-year-old arrangement to house boys and girls at the same Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility by moving the boys to a recently renovated section of the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Nemeth said he was encouraged by the DOC’s announcement that a “staffing plan for the facility is being developed to ensure the appropriate deployment of staff.”

“If they are actually doing a staffing plan … if it means more than just words, I think that is real progress,” the judge said. “I applaud them for that.

Girls will be moved into the unit being vacated by the boys. The unit will house girls in single rooms that lock from a central control location, along with a special management unit specifically programmed for girls struggling with mental health issues.

“It looks like they are going to do what we want them to do,” said Bill Bruinsma, executive director of the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. “We’ll have to see what staffing they’re going to add in and what kind of programming they’re going to put into it … It’s a step in the right direction.”

However, Nemeth doesn’t appear completely sold on the changes…

Nemeth said he still will avoid sending girls to the Indianapolis facility until he knows more details about the changes, especially whether staff-to-child ratios improve. Instead, he said he is sending girls who are the most difficult to rehabilitate to a private juvenile detention facility in Vincennes, at a daily cost to the county of $138, compared to $60 a day at the Indianapolis DOC girls school.


January 11, 2008

Charity Bailey’s Records Released: Police @ Phoenix

Last week Charity Bailey’s records were released from the Marion County Juvenile court.  According to the Indianapolis Star:

The 20-year-old Indianapolis woman now sits in a jail cell, accused along with her live-in boyfriend of killing her 3-year-old daughter, TaJanay, in November.
Bailey’s alleged role in TaJanay’s death is the latest twist in a troubled life detailed in an unusual release of juvenile delinquency records Friday.
Those records reveal a childhood fraught with drugs, sexual abuse and family discord — and a long list of interventions that failed to turn around her life.

The article is really long and almost…almost…makes one feel sorry for her.  It’s a good example of what we in the therapy world call transgenerational issues.  Simply put, the term means issues that travel from on generation to the next.  It’s not an excuse for behavior, because every adult can change their circumstances, but an explanation for how these things happen.

On a related note, the Indy Star has another story about the police and prosecutor opening offices in the Phoenix apartment complex where Tajanay died.

December 21, 2007

IN Girls School Blasted by Judge

Most of the media outlets are carrying stories about St. Joseph Co. Circuit Court Judge Peter Nemeth blasting state officials about the Girls School facility in Indianapolis.  The facility, which houses and “treats” juvenile female offenders from throughout the state, is being criticized by the Judge for:

Girls are not receiving an adequate education, apparently are being allowed to have frequent sex with each other, are not being prepared to re-enter the community and are not receiving needed psychiatric care, Judge Peter Nemeth says his staff has discovered.

Nemeth said his staff has learned through interviews with St. Joseph County girls at the facility that many are having frequent sex with each other there because staff levels are too low for adequate supervision. Some staff know it’s happening but still leave the girls’ doors unlocked at night, giving tacit approval to the sex, some girls have told Nemeth’s personnel.

The girls also complained that male staff members, men they identify by name, often make sexual advances toward them, speaking to and touching them inappropriately.

Speaking with The [South Bend] Tribune, Nemeth called homosexual sex “aberrant” and “not normal,” but said heterosexual sex also has no place in a juvenile rehabilitative setting, where the juvenile needs to instead focus on changing thinking and behavior.

The spread of sexually transmitted diseases also is a risk.

In a pointed letter he sent this week to Gov. Mitch Daniels, Nemeth said the girls school, formally called the Indianapolis Juvenile Correctional Facility, along with the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility for boys, must stop treating children as “adult prisoners” and focus more on rehabilitating them.

“There’s no requirement that anybody achieve anything,” Nemeth told The Tribune. “It’s like how they warehouse them in the adult system. You do your time and you’re gone.”

December 1, 2007

National Story: Rethinking Juvenile Justice

Filed under: Juvenile Justice — kurtglmft @ 4:59 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

From the Associated Press, via the South Bend Tribune comes this story about the tendency to give juvenile offenders adult consequences.  Basically, it states this tendency was a reaction to spikes in juvenile crime in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  Since the time the laws were changed to treat juveniles as adults, research is now coming in indicating that sending juveniles to adult facilities only makes them better criminals.  Several states are looking at retooling their juvenile systems to focus on treatment, instead of incarceration with adults.

As the Blogmeister has stated previously, he worked with juveniles during the early 1990’s in a program designed to change behavior and keep juveniles out of adult facilities.  He knows first hand that these programs do work.  However, there are cases where the programs fail.  With anything, we must not let the pendulum swing to far either way.  There will be cases where the public is best served by long term incarceration and others where treatment is the best option.  Read the story and decide for yourself, but in the Blogmeiser’s opinion, varied options available to the judiciary is the best public policy.

November 24, 2007

Doing What Works in Juvenile Justice

The Indy Star has a good article on a program Marion County has for Juvenile Offenders.  You can view it here.

From the article:


The Community Transition Program in Marion County is mandatory for juvenile offenders incarcerated in state detention facilities. Probation officers and counselors begin working with the teens and their families as soon as their sentences begin.

The teens are released 60 days early to begin a transition phase. They also are linked with mentors as part of the program, to get them into educational programs or jobs.

The program has 111 teens enrolled; about 200 have started the program since its launch in July 2006. It serves kids ages 12 to 19.”

If you read the whole article, it notes the Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force is heavily involved in this. In the interest of full disclosure, the Blogmiester worked for IJJTF about 15 years ago when these programs (in other counties) were just getting off the ground. The Blogmiester is a big fan of these programs because they really do work. It’s unfortunate they are often viewed as being “easy on crime” and aren’t used in every county in the state. The only other complaint about these programs is they often employ therapists/counselors with very little family training.  However, they are definitely better that the “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality in some counties.

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