Strickland ODYS (Ohio Dept. of Youth Services) appointment

The announcement is here. It is a reappointment. I am not familiar with the individual, Tom Stickrath (edited in), so I can’t comment specifically on any action or inaction.

From the announcement:

Tom Stickrath, director of the Department of Youth Services

As director of the Department of Youth Service, Stickrath is responsible for all operations and aspects of the department, including eight facilities with more than 1,800 youth, six regional parole offices and more than 1,400 youth under parole.

Prior to his appointment as director of DYS in December 2004, Stickrath served 14 years as assistant director of the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Stickrath served as interim director of the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Services in 1991, and again in 1998, and as the interim director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety in 2002. Stickrath also served as a regional director, warden and chief inspector for the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Stickrath received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University in 1976 and a law degree from Ohio State University in 1979.

Stickrath resides in Westerville; he and his wife have two children.

“Our children represent the future of Ohio,” Stickrath said. “We must hold troubled youth accountable, but also encourage and work with them to pursue the behaviors and skills needed to live a crime-free, healthy lifestyle.”

As director of DYS, Stickrath earns an annual salary of $116,000.

The Department of Youth Services ensures public safety by providing and supporting a range of effective and cost-effective services that hold youth accountable for their actions and give them the skills and competencies they need to live crime free.

What I will say is that ODYS is the place of last resort for juveniles who’ve been found delinquent. As I’ve written before, Ohio’s juvenile court system is supposed to be biased in favor of rehabilitation. Likewise, in theory, ODYS should carry on that bias.

However, reports frequently highlight the lapses in treatment and rehabilitation at ODYS. How will anything be different under Governor Strickland? I honestly don’t know – I haven’t kept abreast, specifically, with what ODYS is doing to assist juveniles who land there. However, this emphasis on corrections, rehabilitation and keeping the public safe, while of course vital, doesn’t seem to cater to the specific needs of a juvenile population in a place like ODYS. In particular, that last paragraph of the announcement bothers me – skills and competencies to live a crime-free life? As though that’s the best they should hope for? Eh, maybe. But what if you’re that kid’s parents?

This report, finalized just a few months ago, follows my thinking that Ohioans must make decisions about how they want juveniles to be treated: do we give them more chances, do we intensify treatment and what are called wrap-around services, do we say that, while the public is being protected we go for broke in trying to help these kids beat their odds – often dealt to them by multiple system failures? Or, do we say, by the time they’ve ended up in ODYS, they are history and will each cost Ohio taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars a year, every year, for the remainder of their lives, because we are writing them off as recidivists?

Do not look away from this post. This investment is an investment – one way or the other: either we pay upfront and provide programs to help transform and re-route these kids’ lives, or we say that they are bad apples that cannot be saved and we are prepared to let them rot – on our dollar.

Don’t get me started on the prison building industry and how it ties in here.

What do you want for the kids in ODYS? Where do you want your tax dollars going: to their treatment or to their maintenance? Because one way or another, you’re paying. But both ways do not lead to the same result of the children involved.

2 thoughts on “Strickland ODYS (Ohio Dept. of Youth Services) appointment

  1. I did some consulting last year as acting Chief Technical Officer of an incubator spun out of The Ohio State University Medical Center. One of the companies is called GRADcis, which was founded by Dr. Stephen Gavazzi and his wife, Courtney Yarcheck-Gavazzi. He is a professor of Family Science at OSU, and Cortney is a former DYS administrator and parole officer who also holds a Masters in Family Science.Steve’s research interest, which led to the formation of this business, is how risk factors can be assessed and then used to develop individualized interventions in the hope of reducing future problems with the youth.The GRADcis organization is designed to make the Gavazzi’s research a practical tool for the juvenile courts to use in creating action plans for the kids that come before them.I’m not currently engaged with GRADcis, but I hope the Strickland administration finds a way to use their expertise statewide.www.gradcis.com

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