1860 East Pike
Zanesville, Ohio 43701





An Overview of the Muskingum County Juvenile Detention Center

The forty-eight bed secure facility opened to residents in February of 2001. The MCJDC primarily serves Muskingum and neighboring counties. The governance of the Center is a hybrid combining the elements of a single county operated facility with the oversight of a multi-county board. The Muskingum County Juvenile Court Judge has administrative authority over the operation of the Center, while the Juvenile Judges of Coshocton, Knox, and Guernsey Counties serve on an Advisory Board, which meets quarterly to review  and approve policy, procedure and programming.

Dan Kieffer, the Superintendent of the facility has 27 years of experience in juvenile detention. He possesses an Associate Degree of Law Enforcement, a Bachelor Degree of Criminal Justice and a Masters Degree of Social Science. Dan is a founding member of the Ohio Juvenile Detention Services Association and a Past President of that organization.  He is also a founding member of the Ohio Juvenile Detention Directors Association and currently serves as an Executive Board member and is Chair of the Legislative Committee.

Allen Bennett, the Assistant Superintendent and staff trainer, has 9 years of experience in juvenile detention and possesses an Associate Degree and a Bachelor Degree of Criminal Justice. Allen is certified to teach the following areas:  Emergency Responder Training, Cell Extraction, First Aid, CPR, Team Dimensional Training, Crisis Intervention and Juvenile Care Giver Training.  He is an active member of the OJDDA.

The design of the facility emphasizes the safety and security function the Center.  Master Control serves as the communications and security hub for the facility.  Master Control is capable of monitoring, regulating and recording all movement within the detention center. Video cameras and intercoms are prevalent throughout the building. Interlocked doors and passageways are used to prevent unauthorized movement of persons within the facility.

Providing a safe and secure environment for residents, staff and visitors are the most important missions for the facility. Movement throughout the facility is restricted and residents are under constant observation any time they are outside of their individual sleeping room.  Anytime a resident is secured in their sleeping room, a Juvenile Corrections Officer conducts a watch tour.  During a watch tour, a JCO will visually observe the resident and key the sleeping room door, which registers on the security computer. Watch tours are conducted every five to fifteen minutes based upon each resident’s suicide assessment level. On an average day, over 2,000 room checks are completed.

Residents are assigned to one of the four Pods or Living Units based upon age, sex, and the presence of other delinquent associates.  Each Living Unit consists of 12 sleeping rooms, a storage closet, two showers, a counseling office, a janitorial closet, and a dayroom.  Each Living Unit is adjoined to a classroom.

The classroom is designed for maximum resident observation and learning capability.  Each resident is assigned to a study carrel to limit physical and visual contact with other students.  Aside from traditional learning tools and methods, the classroom incorporates the use of laptop computers to enhance the student’s learning opportunity.  A variety of educational programs are available to the students.  The student’s progress is easily monitored on the teacher’s own laptop.  Students attend three school activities each weekday. The educational program is also tied into NOVA NET, an Internet learning system that is used in most of the local school districts.  NOVA NET students can log into the system using their own password and maintain their regular school studies. Their home schoolteacher can log into the system to see how the student is doing. Students are able to receive school credit for the time spent in the Center’s education program.

The facility also contains a medical room, dining room, junior high size gymnasium and an outside recreation area.  Residents participate in three recreational activities per day.  Generally, at least one of the recreational activities takes place in the gym or outside to allow for large muscle movement.

The MCJDC is contracted with the Zanesville-Muskingum County Health Department for medical and dental services.  A Registered Nurse is in the facility forty hours per week and on call as needed.  Additionally, residents are transported to the health department to see a doctor or dentist when necessary.

Meals are prepared on site by employees of the Center.  Meals are served in proportion and of nutritional value to meet the requirements of the Federal School Food Lunch Program.  Unless otherwise required for medical or religious reasons, all residents are provided the same menu items.

On average, the MCJDC admits 1000 juveniles per year.  Approximately 30% of the admissions are female. On average, half of the juveniles are from Muskingum County. The average length of stay is eight days.  Although juveniles can be sentenced up to 90 days, the vast majority of the residents have not been adjudicated for their alleged delinquent activity and are awaiting a court hearing.  Ages of the residents range from 10 to 17 with the average being 15.5 years old.

The Center uses behavior modification techniques including a system of rewards and consequences.  Emphasis is placed on the ABC’s, which represent the resident’s Attitude, Behavior and Cooperation.  Residents are graded twice daily to provide them immediate feed back as to how they are performing.  Based upon their grade they are accorded privileges such as later bed times, gym and outdoor recreation opportunities, and watching selected television programming in the evening. Residents can also earn honor status, which permits additional phone calls home and an expanded visitor list.

Communication and visitation for residents is restricted.  Residents are permitted one phone conversation with parents per week and three visitations from parents per week.  Exceptions are made on a case-by-case basis depending on the residents’ need or living situation.  Residents are provided with three stamps per week to write letters to parents.

Volunteer clergy provide an opportunity for residents to participate in religious programming three times per week.

Mental health services are provided by the Muskingum County Counseling Center.  A counselor is in the facility twice weekly to provide one on one counseling and at other times on an as needed basis.

Members from Alcoholics Anonymous provide a weekly informational and testimonial program.

The JCO’s are crucial to the success of the facility.  They wear many hats and fill a variety of roles for the residents.  In general, the JCO directs the residents through their daily activities while ensuring they remain safe and secure.  Among their primary roles are those of counselor, disciplinarian, arbitrator, confidant and role model for the residents.

Since opening its doors, the facility has maintained 100% compliance with all mandatory and recommended State standards for the Operation of Juvenile Detention Facilities.

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