OH Touts Model Program For Changing How Teen Offenders Think


The Lighthouse Youth Center at Paint Creek, Oh., a 67-bed juvenile facility that specializes in treating male felons who are 15 to 20 years old, is in its 25th year. Its program of changing how young offenders think – cognitive behavioral intervention – is considered state of the art and a model program for reform in the Ohio Department of Youth Services, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. The center is statistically more effective and less expensive.

“We’re embracing it, it’s evidence-based and helps to reduce conflict, improve communication and produces pro-social behavior,” said Kim Parsell, public information officer with the state department of youth services. The rate of repeat offenders treated and released from Paint Creek over the past three years is 16 percent, compared to about 50 percent at state facilities. The cost per day for a youth at Paint Creek is $177 for an average stay of 14 months. At traditional state youth institutions, the per-day cost is $300 for an average stay of 10.9 months. Yet, the overall direct staff-to-youth ratio is roughly 1 to 1, the same as in a state facility. The Paint Creek approach, which includes a pastoral setting on 33 rural acres with no walls, window bars or cells, is the reason for its success. Treatment starts by breaking down tough-guy street images and teaching offenders to think first and react second.

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