Juvenile justice reform expected to cut costs for taxpayers

Juvenile justice reform expected to cut costs for taxpayers
Juvenile Justice reform. (Source: WOIO)
Juvenile Justice reform. (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Administrator Terease Neff and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced a new agreement regarding the booking and processing of juvenile offenders in Cleveland.

The new system will streamline the process for both offenders and police, getting officers back on the street more quickly.

"These reforms again show what we can do to make the Criminal Justice System more efficient and effective when we are all willing to work together," said County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty. "Just as we did earlier this year when we changed the way young offenders are screened coming into the justice system, I am confident these reforms will help the Juvenile Court fulfill its mission to rehabilitate juveniles and promote public safety."

The current way juvenile offenders in Cleveland are booked is costly to taxpayers, and unnecessarily exposes juvenile offenders to violent adult offenders.

The new agreement streamlines and improves the juvenile booking process by making the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center the one-stop-shop for everything.

"Juvenile court has an obligation to do no harm. So, therefore no child should be in-line of sight and sound of any adult offender," said Juvenile Court Administrative Judge Kristin Sweeney.

Beginning Wednesday in the first phase of the agreement, the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center will handle the booking of juvenile offenders from Cleveland's Second and Fourth Police Districts. By early next year, officials expect that all juvenile offenders from Cleveland will be taken directly to the modern Juvenile Detention Center for booking and evaluation.

The juvenile offenders will be detained or transported home from the Juvenile Detention Center.

Officials are confident this new approach will:

1. Streamline the booking process for juvenile offenders, including violent gang offenders;
2. Segregate juvenile offenders from violent adult offenders. Juvenile gang members will no longer be processed or, more importantly, influenced by adult gang members in a common booking area;
3. Reduce the time that a juvenile is held in police custody;
4. Eliminate unnecessary transportation by law enforcement;
5. Allow law enforcement officers to return to duty faster. This will mean more cops on the streets;
6. Provide greater police presence at the Juvenile Justice Center and bolster safety for visitors, staff, and for the juveniles.

"The centralized booking of juveniles in the Juvenile Justice Center is a direct result of a true collaboration between the Juvenile Court, the Sheriff's Department, county and city IT Departments, the Prosecutor's Office, the Cleveland Police Department, and the Mayor's Office, to improve the process and achieve an outcome that is in the best interest of the children and the community," said Juvenile Court Administrator Tess Neff.

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