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Ohio has also developed an effective system of community-based alternatives to incarceration for juvenile offenders, called RECLAIM Ohio (Reasoned and Equitable Community and Local Alternatives to the Incarceration of Minors). In 1991, Ohio’s juvenile facilities were operating at 150 percent of capacity. State officials saw a way of meeting the twin needs of protecting the public by incarcerating serious and violent juvenile offenders and reducing institutional populations. Recognizing the overcrowded conditions in the state’s juvenile correctional facilities, Ohio officials developed the RECLAIM Ohio program. The program provides financial incentives for local courts to keep most of the less serious juvenile offenders in the community for treatment. Each county receives a monthly allocation of funds based on the number of juvenile felony adjudications. Judges can use that money to purchase long-term confinement from the Department of Youth Services or to develop, expand, or purchase community-based alternatives locally. Judges can incarcerate serious, violent offenders free of charge (for murder, aggravated murder, and rape).

In a single year, counties were able to keep more than $18 million from RECLAIM to serve more than 8,600 delinquent youths in local programs. A pilot study in Ohio counties found that the program achieved its objective of decreasing admissions to juvenile reformatories for less serious offenses and increasing admissions for more serious felony offenses. Nearly all of the pilot counties increased the number of community-based services offered. A subsequent evaluation of the new local programs designed by juvenile court judges, called “community correctional facilities,” found most of them to be effective.

Risk Factors


Antisocial/delinquent beliefs

Drug dealing

Gang involvement in adolescence

General delinquency involvement

High alcohol/drug use

Illegal gun ownership/carrying

Physical violence/aggression

Violent victimization


Delinquent siblings

Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)


Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school

Poor school attitude/performance; academic failure


Association with antisocial/aggressive/delinquent peers; high peer delinquency

Association with gang-involved peers/relatives

Peer alcohol/drug use


American Youth Policy Forum: Effective program structure


Tony F. Panzino
Bureau Chief of Courts and Community Services
Ohio Department of Youth Services
30 W. Spring Street
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 752-8131
Web site: https://dys.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/dys/courts-and-community/RECLAIM#RECLAIMOhio


Latessa, E. J., and Holsinger, A. M. (1999). Evaluation of the Ohio Department of Youth Services’ Community Correctional Facilities. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati, Division of Criminal Justice.

Moon, M. M.; Applegate, B. K.; and Latessa, E. J. (1997). “RECLAIM Ohio: A Politically Viable Alternative to Treating Youthful Felony Offenders.” Crime & Delinquency, 43:438–457.

Date Created: April 7, 2021