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Hamilton County Juvenile Court



Hamilton County Juvenile Court Cincinnati, Ohio

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History of The Youth Center

The new Youth Center was designed to replace a 30-year old facility on a five-acre site in an historic section of Cincinnati, Ohio. An exhaustive study by Glaser & Associates determined that the old facility could not be brought up to current standards and that it was too small for the county’s needs. Through careful site planning, the existing facility was kept in use during construction until the new building was ready to be occupied.

The facility design is based on a unit management approach in which juveniles are housed in small groups of 10 with direct staff supervision.  Most services, including meals, education, counseling, and visitation, are decentralized and are brought to the residents. Residents leave their housing units only for exercise, court visits, and medical treatment. 

In addition to the 160–bed detention facility, the Youth Center houses a 24-hour complaint area, processing the majority of the delinquency complaints. These complaints are received from law enforcement agency personnel, parents and citizens. The Youth Center serves as a one stop shop for law enforcement, from the secure vehicular garage for police vehicle parking, to Intake and complaint processing for arrested youth.

Youth admitted to the facility are interviewed, assessed for suicide risk level and assigned to one of the eight housing units. Unit housing is based on the seriousness of their admission offense, history of violence and sexual behavior, known gang involvement and behavioral history from prior Youth Center admissions.

Health screenings are performed on new admissions 24 hours daily. The screening identifies immediate health problems, communicable diseases, and fitness for placement in the general housing population. The medical history elicits information regarding current health concerns, exposure to sexually transmitted infections, psychiatric history (including previous suicide attempts), and substance abuse.

Residents of the Youth Center attend educational programs provided by the Cincinnati Board of Education. The educational program operates during the regular school year and a modified program operates during the summer session. Core instructional areas of the Youth Center school curriculum are remedial reading, remedial math, computers, life skills, social studies and physical education.

Visitation occurs seven days a week. Children are scheduled to visit with parents or legal guardians based on unit assignment. A child may have visitation a minimum of three times a week. Special visitation due to family circumstances or work schedules may be arranged with prior notification.

Recreational programs are provided by the facility recreation staff to supplement the educational program. Volunteers provide various religious, informational, health and recreational programs.

The Youth Center provides a high level of facility security to assure the safety of the community, visitors, volunteers, agency personnel, law enforcement, youth and staff. Security is maintained through the use of an electronic security system. Cameras, intercoms, locks, motion detectors, video recording and vehicular access doors are controlled through technology. The use of technology to create a safe and secure environment complements a trained and dedicated staff, assuring the ability to meet the challenges and opportunities of managing a diversified delinquent population with success.

The Youth Center is recognized as one of the nation’s Model Suicide Prevention Programs in a juvenile facility. “Jail Suicide / Mental Health Update” A joint project of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives and the National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice. Spring 1998 ~ Volume 7 ~ Number 4).

* The Youth Center is recognized as a model facility with special recognition for its Suicide Assessment/Management program. Best Practices: Excellence in Corrections published by the American Correctional Association.

Copyright 2016 by Hamilton County Juvenile Court. All Rights Reserved.