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The Need For The World Food Program To Increase Humanitarian Assistance to Somalia in 2024

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A photo showing a group of people standing outside a home.

As Somalia grapples with a complex humanitarian crisis exacerbated by a confluence of factors, the World Food Program (WFP) has sounded the alarm, highlighting the imperative to rapidly increase humanitarian assistance in the country throughout 2024. The urgent call for a substantial infusion of funds underscores the dire circumstances faced by millions of Somalis, necessitating a robust and immediate response from the international community.

Why The World Food Program Is Stressing Urgency

One of the primary drivers behind the heightened urgency is the pressing issue of acute malnutrition, particularly among young children. The WFP’s latest report reveals a stark reality: an estimated 1.5 million young children in Somalia are projected to experience malnutrition in 2023. Among them, a staggering 331,000 youths are at risk of malnutrition that is life-threatening. These alarming statistics underscore the urgent need for life-saving humanitarian relief and nutrition assistance.

The situation in Somalia is further compounded by the lingering aftermath of drought, which has left communities vulnerable and struggling. Adding to these challenges are the impacts of flooding, particularly around South Somalia’s Juba and Shabelle rivers. These floods have wreaked havoc, causing widespread devastation and exacerbating the difficulties faced by communities already grappling with the effects of drought.

The Somali Disaster Management Agency has pointed out that storms and the floods that ensued afterwards have affected a staggering 2.4 million people in Somalia. Out of this, 1.2 million individuals have been displaced, and tragically, 118 lives have been lost. The displacement and loss of life underscore the urgency of addressing the immediate needs of affected populations and implementing measures to enhance their resilience against such recurring crises.

The challenging terrain created by obstructed roads and airstrips from the floods has added complexity to relief efforts. Affected communities find themselves cut off from traditional means of transportation, intensifying the difficulties in reaching those in need. In response to these challenges, reliance on alternative modes of transportation, such as boats and helicopters, has become paramount for delivering essential commodities to these areas.

The floods have struck Somalia during a period when the risk of starvation was already alarmingly high. The WFP notes that 4.3 million people in Somalia faced severe food insecurity in the last quarter of 2023, with one million individuals facing emergency levels of hunger. The convergence of multiple crises has created a dire humanitarian situation, demanding immediate and sustained intervention.

The World Food Program’s Call For Funding

To address the multifaceted challenges in Somalia, the WFP’s call for 364 million U.S. dollars in net funding aims to bolster a comprehensive response. This funding is crucial for scaling up assistance in various sectors, including providing food aid, medical care, clean water, and shelter. Additionally, it supports efforts to mitigate the impacts of malnutrition, especially among the most vulnerable segments of the population – children.

In conclusion, the need for the World Food Program to scale up humanitarian assistance to Somalia in 2024 is an urgent imperative dictated by the intersecting crises of drought, floods, displacement, and acute malnutrition. Timely and robust international support is crucial to addressing the immediate needs of the affected population, preventing further loss of life, and building resilience for the future. The humanitarian community’s response will be a testament to its commitment to alleviating suffering and fostering stability in one of the world’s most challenging environments.

A photo showing two people posing for a photo.

Help The Somali Community in Columbus Thrive

Supporting the Somali community in Columbus is vital amid ongoing challenges. Your donation to Somali Community Link ensures access to crucial resettlement services, fostering a thriving community. Stay informed with Somali community news in Columbus at our website and be a catalyst for positive change.

Together, we enhance lives and build a resilient, united community. Your generosity echoes beyond borders, creating lasting impacts for a brighter future. Join us in empowering the Somali community in Ohio– contribute today for meaningful change.

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What Somalia’s Membership To The East Africa Trade Bloc Means For The Nation

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A photo showing two women posting for a photo

Somalia’s official entry into the East Africa trade bloc marks a significant milestone with far-reaching implications for the nation. This move holds transformative potential across various sectors, influencing economic growth, regional cooperation, and overall national development.

Economic Integration

Joining the East Africa trade bloc opens up new avenues for economic integration. Somalia can now actively engage in intra-regional trade, fostering economic partnerships with neighboring countries. Reduced trade barriers, streamlined customs procedures, and harmonized regulations create a conducive environment for increased commerce. This integration enables Somali businesses to access a larger market, promoting the exchange of goods and services with East African partners.

Market Access and Diversification

One of the immediate benefits is enhanced market access. Somali businesses gain entry to the markets of East African Community (EAC) member states, presenting opportunities for export growth. Diversification of trade partners reduces dependence on a narrow range of markets, contributing to the resilience of Somalia’s economy. This diversification strategy becomes vital for long-term sustainability and mitigating risks associated with economic fluctuations.

Investment Opportunities

Membership in the East Africa trade bloc attracts foreign investors seeking opportunities in a region characterized by increased economic cooperation. Somalia can benefit from foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, which can stimulate economic activities, infrastructure development, and job creation. The prospect of a larger market and a more favorable investment climate may encourage both regional and global investors to explore and contribute to Somalia’s economic expansion.

Infrastructure Development

Economic integration often triggers infrastructure development to support the increased movement of goods and services. As part of the trade bloc, Somalia may witness improvements in transportation networks, such as roads, railways, and ports. Enhanced infrastructure not only facilitates smoother cross-border trade but also strengthens domestic connectivity, fostering economic development within the country.

Political and Diplomatic Relations

Beyond the economic realm, joining the East Africa trade bloc has diplomatic and political implications. It signals Somalia’s commitment to regional collaboration and integration. Closer ties with neighboring countries foster a spirit of cooperation, paving the way for joint initiatives on matters of mutual interest, including security, environmental concerns, and regional stability.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits are substantial, challenges may accompany Somalia’s integration into the East Africa trade bloc. These challenges could include adapting to regional trade regulations, addressing infrastructure gaps, and managing potential socio-economic disparities. Effective governance and cooperation with member states are crucial for navigating these challenges successfully.

In conclusion, Somalia’s official entry into the East Africa trade bloc holds immense promise for the nation’s economic prosperity and regional cooperation. It signifies a commitment to shared goals and opportunities, with the potential to reshape the economic landscape, improve infrastructure, create jobs, and strengthen diplomatic ties. As Somalia embarks on this new chapter, careful planning, collaboration, and adaptability will be key to maximizing the benefits and overcoming challenges associated with regional integration.

Help The Somali Community in Columbus By Donating To Somali Community Link

Support the thriving Somali community in Ohio by making a difference through donations to Somali Community Link. Your contribution aids vital initiatives, fostering education, housing, and employment opportunities. Stay connected with Somali community news in Columbus on our website and empower Central Ohio’s Somali community.

Together, let’s create positive change. Connect with us today to make a meaningful impact on the Somali Community in Central Ohio.

Somalia Joins The East Africa Trade Bloc: A Detailed Analysis

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a map of Africa made with wooden blocks

In a historic move, Somalia officially joined the East African Community (EAC) on November 24, 2023, becoming the eighth member of the regional trade bloc. The signing ceremony, held at the presidential residence in Kampala, Uganda, marked a significant geopolitical shift for Somalia, positioning itself to benefit from increased trade and economic integration in the East African region.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

Economic Clout and Market Expansion

Somalia’s formal membership in the East Africa Trade Bloc follows major economic developments, including the recent approval of $4.5 billion in debt forgiveness by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This financial support underscores Somalia’s commitment to financial reforms under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC). With its inclusion, the EAC market expands to over 300 million people, offering new opportunities for trade and collaboration.

Strategic and Geopolitical Implications

Despite Somalia’s ongoing challenges with al-Shabab, governance issues, and environmental disasters, the move to join the East Africa Trade Bloc holds strategic importance. By expanding its economic clout, the EAC aims to enhance regional stability and foster economic growth. The decision to admit Somalia, despite concerns about governance and human rights, reflects the bloc’s determination to prioritize economic integration as a means of fostering positive change.

EAC Expansion and Somalia’s Regional Trade Relationships

The EAC membership of Somalia creates opportunities for more trade, especially with the Middle East. This action gives Somalia a chance to improve its regional commercial ties because some of its main trading partners: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Oman, and UAE, are not part of the EAC. Because of their proximity and common economic goals, the East Africa Trade Bloc fosters cooperative efforts and mutually beneficial collaborations.

a ship by the docks

Challenges and Considerations

While the EAC’s decision to admit Somalia has been met with optimism, challenges loom on the horizon. Somalia’s history of conflict and issues related to good governance, democracy, and human rights raise concerns. The admission of Somalia could pose security challenges, especially given the ongoing struggle against al-Shabab. The delicate balance between fostering economic integration and addressing security issues will be a key consideration for the EAC in the coming years.

The Road Ahead: Integration and Mutual Benefits

The EAC Summit outlined a roadmap for Somalia’s integration, emphasizing a commitment to principles of good governance and regional stability. As Somalia becomes a full-fledged member, questions about military support and regional conflicts linger. However, the potential benefits, including economic growth, increased trade, and shared cultural ties, offer hope for a positive and transformative impact on Somalia and the broader East African region.

Somalia’s accession to the East African Community signifies a turning point with far-reaching implications. As the nation embarks on this new chapter of economic collaboration, the East Africa Trade Bloc aims to use its expanded influence to drive positive change in Somalia and foster a more interconnected and prosperous East Africa.

Join Somali Community Link in fostering a stronger bond with the Somali community in Central Ohio! Explore our news updates, housing needs, immigration services, and youth initiatives for Somali youth. Your contribution aids vital programs—and helps us build a thriving Somali community. Support education, business development, and refugee assistance in Columbus.

Together, let’s make a positive impact on social integration and community well-being. Join us in creating a brighter future for the Somali Community in Ohio. Donate today to empower lives, promote education, and provide essential services. Together, we can make a lasting difference in Columbus’s North Side and West Side. Top of Form

Flood In Somalia: Russia Provides Humanitarian Aid With 25,000 Tons Of Grain Supplies

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flooded parcel of land

In response to the humanitarian crisis triggered by heavy rains and flooding in Somalia, Russia has delivered a significant relief effort. A freighter carrying twenty-five thousand tons of foodstuff and grain arrived at Mogadishu’s seaport, marking a crucial step in addressing the dire situation faced by the Somali population.

The support for the flood in Somalia was due to a bigger promise President Putin made to offer aid to African countries during the Russia-Africa summit.

Here’s what you need to know about the situation:

Russian Assistance Arrives Amidst Crisis

At a ceremony in which prominent individuals such as Somali Interior Minister Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, and the Russian Ambassador to Somalia attended, the shipment was formally turned over to the Somali Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA). Russia is concerned about Somalia’s worsening food situation, which is due to the country’s constant flooding and severe rainy weather according to Ambassador Golovanov.

Acknowledgment of Humanitarian Emergency

Due to the catastrophic floods, which have left 101 people dead and a staggering number of displaced and afflicted people, Somalia has declared a “national humanitarian emergency”. Hard-hit states include the Southwest, Jubaland, and the South-Central state of Hirshabelle. A significant impact on agriculture, affecting around one and a half million hectares, has also been a source of concern due to the severe rains.

Russian Ambassador’s Commitment

The Russian ambassador in Somalia highlighted Russia’s commitment to supporting Somalia during these challenging times. He emphasized that the recently delivered aid is only the first batch, with a second shipment of humanitarian grain expected later in 2024. This ongoing support for flood in Somalia reflects Russia’s dedication to alleviating the suffering caused by the humanitarian crisis.

Acknowledgment and Gratitude from Somalia

Somali Interior Minister Fiqi, alongside other government officials, expressed gratitude to the government of Russia for the timely humanitarian assistance. Minister Fiqi stated that the aid would be distributed to federal state members of Somalia to aid flood victims, underscoring the critical need for international support.

Global Impact and Cooperation

The delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalia is part of a broader global effort by Russia to assist countries in need. Experts acknowledge this as a positive political decision, emphasizing Russia’s willingness to extend help where required, even without economic gain. The move aligns with a broader trend of nations, including China, participating in open and friendly cooperation to address global challenges.

As Somalia grapples with the aftermath of severe flooding, Russia’s provision of twenty-five thousand tons of grain stands as a beacon of hope. This humanitarian aid not only addresses immediate food needs but also exemplifies the international community’s collaborative efforts to support nations facing crises. The commitment of nations like Russia to extend a helping hand underscores the importance of global solidarity in times of adversity.

Join Somali Community Link in supporting the resilient Somali community in Ohio. As the organization navigates challenges, your assistance ensures vital services like housing needs, financial assistance, and youth initiatives thrive. Be part of the solution—donate now and empower the Somali Community in Columbus.

Your contribution fuels resettlement and immigration services and fosters social integration. Help build a brighter future, providing hope and stability. Make a difference today in Somali refugees’ lives. Give to the education fund, business development, and health initiatives. Every donation counts toward our collective success.

Police union president made ‘racially insensitive’ remarks on social media, complaint says

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The president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police is under investigation after a complaint alleging he made racially insensitive comments on social media, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by the Dispatch.

The complaint filed in late July with the city’s Department of Public Safety relates to posts Jeff Simpson made on his X profile, formerly known as Twitter. The Department of Public Safety confirmed the investigation is ongoing.

The issue revolves around Simpson’s response to posts about the Jason Aldean song, “Try That in a Small Town.” The song and music video drew wide criticism for lyrics and images that invoke racism, with the music video being shot in front of a courthouse where a lynching took place.

On July 18, Ken Kuebler, a retired Columbus police deputy chief, posted about the song on his X profile.

Simpson replied, saying, “I hope this song goes to #1. The tolerant left is off the hook. People need to stand up and not be moved. Keep fighting for this country.”

According to the complaint, a reply was made to Simpson’s post, noting that CMT had stopped playing the video because the station considered the video to be “pro-lynching.”

Simpson commented in response, “back in the day that was the penalty you got for doing really bad things. Today you get nothing.”

The back-and-forth on the social media platform then drew a response from Tim Myers, a current deputy chief with the Division of Police.

“Jeff, if you think lynching is ‘the penalty you got for really bad things’ you really need to educate yourself,” Myers wrote. “This is unacceptable.”

Simpson replied, calling Myers “idiotic” and saying it was “scary” that someone in Myers’ position would “make this judgmental stretch.”

“Lord help our troops who are under you,” Simpson continued. It is unclear if Simpson was referring to the officers under Myers’ command or Myers’ service in the U.S. Army.

In another response to his comments, Simpson agreed with a commenter who said other genres of music are allowed to talk about drug use, violence and abusing women with little of the pushback Aldean saw.

“The left wants to push their agenda, silence free speech and shove their agenda down other’s throats. It is absolutely Twilight Zone crap,” Simpson said.

After the exchange, a Black officer filed an equal employment opportunity, EEO, complaint with the city.

“These statements are not only concerning but make me feel extremely uncomfortable and unsafe to work for the same Division of Police as him,” the officer wrote. “Simpson has already treated me unfairly and has denied me the same access my other co-workers have been granted. This all makes sense now as to why I have been treated this way.”

Simpson has been the president of the FOP Capital City Lodge No. 9 since April 2021 and is set to serve as president through December 2024. He has also been both the grievance chairman for Columbus police and assistant grievance chair, elected FOP executive board trustee and elected as vice president, executive vice president and president of the union.

“There is a process with any complaint,” Simpson said Tuesday. “I respect such process, and I have no further comment at this time.”

“I’ve been in office and have worked for the past five consecutive FOP presidents before me. I have been afforded what I believe to be one of the most humbling opportunities to serve in all those capacities only by the good graces and trust that my membership has put in me, and I am thankful for that,” Simpson said.

The Division of Police has a policy governing social media usage, which requires employees to “consider how their personal conduct and statements may impair their work relationships.”

“At a minimum, Department employees shall not engage in slurs or demeaning behavior based on protected classes,” the policy says. “Department employees shall also not engage in personal attacks.”

When an employee is speaking as a representative of a bargaining unit, like the police union, however, those policies do not apply.

Simpson’s social media posts have drawn criticism from activists who support police reform and others in the community. In a July 27 post, he called body cameras “an insult to the profession” and said they have “ruined” policing.

“They were implemented off of a flat out ‘hands up, don’t shoot lie.’ They are a gold mine for the media & cause officers to be tried & convicted in the court of public opinion (which causes chaos) before an investigation begins,” he posted on X.

Dogs treated like royalty for Tihar, the Nepali Diwali

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Rocky sat patiently as his people rubbed vermilion powder onto his forehead, placed a garland around his neck and showered him in marigold petals. 

Then he scarfed down some chicken-flavored treats.

Rocky is a Japanese Spitz, and his owners, Mon and Mani Sanyasi, are Hindus who were honoring their dog as part of Tihar — the Hindu festival also known as Diwali — in their cozy apartment on Columbus’ Northeast Side.

Often called the festival of lights, Diwali holds different meanings and is celebrated differently by different populations across South Asia, as well as their diasporas in the United States. A common theme is the victory of good over evil, which is symbolized by lighting candles and fireworks that illuminate villages, towns and cities over the holiday.

For the Sanyasi family, the holiday also involves ritual worship of cows, crows — and dogs.

“We’re all the same,” Mon told The Dispatch in Nepali. “They may have four legs, but they’re a lot like us. They get hungry; they get thirsty; they like to go explore. … The main thing is, you’ve got to love them.”

The Sanyasis belong to the Bhutanese Nepali community, who number around 30,000 in central Ohio. Most Bhutanese Nepalis are Hindu, although there are significant Buddhist and Christian minorities.

The Hindus celebrate Diwali as the victory of the god Rama over a demon named Ravana; “Tihar” is the Nepali-language term for the five-day festival.

The Sanyasi family came to the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program seven years ago, after being evicted by the Bhutanese government and spending decades in camps in Nepal. Mani and Mon, along with their daughters Reha, 16, and Amisha, 20, have since become American citizens.

Today, Mani works at a meat processing plant while Mon is a homemaker.

“I like America, but my heart misses Nepal and Bhutan during the holidays,” Mon said in Nepali. “In Nepal, nearly every home is celebrating, lit up with lights. But here, we’re the only Nepalis in our complex — it’s like we’re celebrating alone.”

In Nepal and Bhutan, families gather for feasts of chicken and goat, and make special rice-flour doughnuts called selroti, she explained.

Brothers offer gifts to their sisters in exchange for blessings, and groups of carolers go door-to-door to perform call-and-response songs.

 “It’s kinda like Halloween, but instead of candy you get money,” Amisha said.

People also feed crows and place vermillion powder on cattle during the holiday.

Dogs are worshipped because they are the gatekeepers for Yama, the god of death. 

As Mani butchered a chicken for dinner using a cleaver, Mon prepared for Rocky’s ritual by lighting incense and a butter lamp. She sprinkled rice grains by the family’s altar, which has images of the god Shiva and goddesses Laxmi and Parvati.

Then Amisha held Rocky, who was surprisingly cooperative, while her mother rubbed red vermillion powder onto his forehead as a symbol of respect. Mani brought out a plastic flower garland, purchased from a local Nepali grocery, and placed it on Rocky’s shoulders.

The canine, who is just a year old, looked a little confused, but not unhappy.

“Good boy,” Amisha said.

Critics say DeWine needs broader expertise for youth prison panel

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The head of the union that represents prison guards panned Gov. Mike DeWine’s plan to have a panel of experts examine problems within Ohio’s youth prison and juvenile detention centers.

Christopher Mabe, president of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association, said he is “appalled” that the governor’s new panel doesn’t include youth prison workers.

More:DeWine calls for group to examine problems at youth prisons after newspaper investigation

“To keep dusting people off from ages past, I would’ve thought these individuals had a chance to correct these issues when they were in charge and obviously, they didn’t,” said Mabe.DeWine announced the task force following an investigation by The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository and other newspapers that found the juvenile prison and detention system is overwhelmed by violence and trauma and doesn’t have enough employees to provide adequate security, education and mental health treatment for incarcerated children.

Employees and kids are injured − sometimes seriously − in fights and assaults that erupt without warning. Workers are struggling to maintain order and fear for their own safety. Within three years of leaving a state youth prison, four in 10 teens are incarcerated again in either the youth or adult system. And those who don’t return to prison face a higher likelihood of dying an early death.

Mabe added, “All I can say is the task force will not come to immediate resolution to the problems that need to be resolved now.”Leading the governor’s task force is Tom Stickrath, a retired state executive who led the Ohio Department of Youth Services during the Taft administration. Stickrath’s management team at the time included Amy Ast, who now leads the youth prisons department. Stickrath recommended Ast as director and said he has confidence in her now.

Also, on the task force are two retired and one current juvenile court judges, four lawmakers, a juvenile prosecutor, and an academic.

Lancaster resident Tara Clark, whose 19-year-old son has been incarcerated since age 16, said the governor should include people with direct experience with the juvenile justice system.

“The expertise are the moms and dads that have lived this nightmare and the kids who have lived this nightmare,” she said.

Stickrath said he is considering getting input from people with “lived experience” in the system.

Oversight group to question youth prisons director

State Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, who leads the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, called a meeting of the bipartisan oversight group for Nov. 28.

Schmidt said she wants Ast to answer questions about how she plans to stabilize the Department of Youth Services and discuss how lawmakers can help. It’ll be the committee’s first meeting of 2023.

The committee inspects and issues reports on conditions inside Ohio’s youth and adult prisons.

Federal officials are mum

The Gault Center, a national juvenile justice advocacy group, sent a letter outlining problems with Ohio’s youth prisons and detention centers to federal justice officials in February 2022.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division didn’t respond to the letter until after the newspapers began asking what happened to the inquiry. Federal officials met with The Gault Center in August.

A Department of Justice spokesperson on Tuesday said of the newspapers’ investigation: “We will consider the information in the report, as well as any other relevant information, in determining whether any action by the Justice Department is appropriate.”

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Ken Parker declined to comment. Interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Rebecca Lutzko did not return messages.

Ohio juvenile judges call for funding changes after newspapers’ youth prison investigation

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Ohio juvenile court judges are calling for appropriate funding for the state’s juvenile prisons and detention centers, more discretion in sentencing options and more community-based facilities to ensure safety and rehabilitation after an investigation exposed problems in the facilities.

The eight-month investigation by The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Columbus Dispatch, Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository and other USA TODAY Network Ohio newspapers found the system is overwhelmed by violence and doesn’t have enough employees to provide adequate security, education and mental health treatment for incarcerated children.

In response to the project, the Ohio Association of Juvenile Court Judges released a joint statement on Tuesday signed by the group’s president, Lorain County Judge Frank Janik.

Related:DeWine calls for group to examine problems at youth prisons after newspaper investigation

While the Ohio Department of Youth Services operates Ohio’s three youth prisons, county judges are responsible for sending kids there and also often operate local juvenile detention centers.

In their statement, the judges said:”The task assigned to the adults working in Ohio’s youth prisons is extraordinarily difficult, and the vast majority of those counselors, educators, and guards are dedicated to their work and to the youth they work with. Appropriate funding ensures that those facilities are appropriately staffed, to levels that ensure youth safety, and that allow for meaningful intervention in education and treatment, so that those youth may find that successful adult lives lie before them upon release.”

More:Kids Behind Bars: Chaos, violence and neglect plague youth prisons and detention centers

Within three years of release from DYS, about 43% of people either return to youth prison or enter the adult prison system.

Employees and kids in these facilities are injured − sometimes seriously − in fights and assaults.

The judges said that research shows incarcerating a youth is often harmful and thus judges have increasingly turned to alternatives, using incarceration in DYS as a last resort for those who’ve committed the most serious offenses or who have reoffended consistently.

In an interview, Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio, who has been Summit County’s juvenile judge since 2003, said sending a juvenile to DYS is a last resort.

“I don’t think we should be sending kids to prison unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she said.

For the youths she sends to DYS, Teodosio said she checks in with them every 30 to 60 days to make sure they are behaving and getting the help they need. She thinks she may be one of the only judges doing this. She said her court also helps develop a re-entry plan for the youths. 

More: Special report: Ohio’s juvenile detention system struggles with violence, neglect

Teodosio said that juvenile judges should be given more discretion in their sentencing options. She said she once had a kid who was acting up in detention and she found out he had seen his father killed in front of him.

“It’s part of what we should be considering – a kid’s background, how many times they have been in trouble before,” she said. “Sometimes, this might be the first time a kid is in trouble, and we send them off to prison or the adult system. I think most parents expect the court to have discretion.” 

In an interview, Stark County Juvenile Administrative Judge Jim James said he avoids sentencing children to DYS when possible and prefers to send some youth to the Multi-County Juvenile Attention System in Canton, one of the state’s 11 county-run correctional facilities.

“That’s an advantage having one in Stark County,” James said. “Their family can be part of the treatment and visit with them and I think that is key to getting them on a good path. We’ve had success with that.”

More community-based correction facilities could be a solution, James said, but it would require putting more funding into the program while maintaining the youth prisons for more serious offenders.

James said the Department of Youth Services has to address safety issues.

“When kids don’t feel like they’re in a safe environment they are not going to start addressing their problems (that put them there),” the judge said. “They’ve got to control the violence that is occurring.”