Ohio Gov. Bob Taft demanded the resignation of longtime state youth services director Geno Natalucci-Persichetti yesterday, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The governor said recent scandals at state-run prisons for juveniles require a change in leadership. Natalucci-Persichetti, who has held his job since 1987, is the state’s longest-serving Cabinet director. Natalucci-Persichetti came under fire this year for what an outside consultant called a “culture of violence” at the state’s prison for girls. A consultant found abusive guards, unqualified social workers, and inadequate health care.
The Children’s Law Center, a regional advocacy group that first complained about the conditions, filed a lawsuit that accuses the department of failing to provide proper legal representation to kids in its custody. Center director Kim Brooks Tandy said many of the agency’s problems stem from law and policy changes that emphasize punishment, not rehabilitation. Natalucci-Persichetti has saidthat a string of state budget cuts undermined his ability to properly staff facilities and treat juveniles housed there.