March 26, 2010

Passing with high marks

Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility ranked among nation’s best

by Kevin Lilly

According to a national accreditation association, the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility is one of the top facilities in the country.

The American Correctional Association finished up its three-day inspection Thursday. The auditors applauded the staff for its record keeping and the level of service it provides to the troubled youth in its care.

“The state of Indiana should be proud of what is happening here at Logansport,” said James Ball of the ACA to a group of staff and leaders from the community.

For three days, Ball and two other auditors toured the facility and met with staff and students as they put the operation under a microscope. They reviewed files for the offenders as well as personnel and studied the educational, religious and other services as part of determining if the facility was compliant with ACA standards.

“Well relax, you passed,” Ball said to begin Thursday’s exit celebration.

Of the 438 standards, Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility met or exceeded all but six.

“Logansport, having scored in the high 90s, is reflective of an outstanding program, in essence one of the better programs in the country,” Ball said.

The facility, located on the grounds of Logansport State Hospital, houses about 130 male juvenile offenders ranging in age from 14 to 18. They are adjudicated delinquents from around the state. The facility is charged with meeting all their needs, from education to medical, vision, dental and mental health.

Ball said most of the standards not met — such as ceiling height in the indoor recreation area and plumbing in the dorms - were beyond the control of staff because of the facility’s layout.

For Superintendent Lori Harshbarger, the audit was her first accreditation process. She called the experience educational because she received tips for possible improvements. She also felt the pressure.

“It was nerve-racking but enjoyable,” Harshbarger said.

According to its Web site, the American Correctional Association is the oldest and largest international correctional association in the world. It serves all disciplines within the correctional profession and was founded in 1870 as the National Prison Association.

Auditor Len Munks complimented the facility’s educational services. Along with changing the behavior of the teens, he felt it was just as important that the offenders gain competencies while housed in a prison.

“I have seen few educational areas that had so much GED preparation and graduation rates that were shared with us,” Munks said.

Munks found the library contained more than 4,500 titles that were highly organized and being checked out regularly.

The skilled trades program includes fiber optics. Munks says that trade is in demand and will give offenders an edge in the work force when released back into society.

“The kids that participate in that and come out of here with that skill, they’re really going to be ahead of a lot of other kids,” Munks said.

Hearing the positive feedback made the superintendent proud of her staff and their devotion to rehabilitating the troubled teens.

“I’m very pleased and extremely proud of our staff,” Harshbarger said.

• Kevin Lilly is news editor of the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5117 or