Monday, November 06, 2000

Neighbors, workers oppose plan to move sex offenders

        CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — Plans to move juvenile sex offenders to a treatment center near this central Ohio community are drawing opposition from some of its neighbors as well as center employees.

        The Ohio Department of Youth Services has proposed using the Circleville Youth Center to house and treat sex offenders and moving its reception center for male felons to the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility in Delaware County. The reception center for females is already in Delaware County — it's across the street from Scioto.

        Both centers house about 250 delinquents.

        Cyndi Davidson is helping lead an effort to halt the planned switch. She's gathered more than 650 signatures on a petition opposing the change.

        Because about 60 percent of offenders are from the northern half of the state, moving the center about an hour north to Delaware would save on transportation costs, department spokesman Kevin Miller said. It would also provide better education facilities, he said.

        Ms. Davidson argued the change also would mean parents of many juvenile sex offenders would have to drive another hour from Delaware County to Circleville for visits.

        That goes against the department's philosophy that parental involvement is essential to treating offenders, she said.

        Helen Doherty, who lives a few hundred yards and one set of railroad tracks from the Circleville center, said she does not see why the change is needed.

        There is some comfort in knowing the center as it currently exists is just a stopping point for youths on their way to other sites, she said.

        “I don't know what it would be like if they brought in some of these so-called sex addicts,” she said. “They would be there a long time.”

        Ms. Davidson said escape attempts already are common at the reception center. Mr. Miller confirmed that four of those attempts have been successful.

        The planned date for the switch — Nov. 20 — has been postponed until Youth Services Department officials have a better grasp of the details, her said.


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