He said the division pursues legal action if something illegal occurs, which can result in odd incarceration circumstances.
An adult incarcerated as a juvenile and housed in a juvenile facility can be sent to an adult prison if he or she commits a crime while living in the juvenile facility. The offender can serve his or her time in adult prison and then return to the juvenile facility, Dodson said.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered state officials to relocate the Harriet B. Jones Treatment Center or its residents by Sept. 30. The Harrison County facility is on the same Salem campus as the former Industrial Home for Youth. The state closed the high-security Industrial Home for Youth earlier after a circuit judge condemned conditions at the facility.
"I've had kids that were committed, transferred to adult status in adult court, found guilty, sentenced to 40 years, then they turn 18 [and] they're kept in the juvenile system because they're working on a GED or doing so well,'' Dodson said.
Returning problematic adult offenders to juvenile facilities is bad for morale and safety. But it is the law, he said.
"I do feel like something can be done to change the code,'' he said.
Judge Omar Aboulhosn earlier condemned conditions at the Industrial Home for Youth, which led to the state closing it to youths as of July 1.
Aboulhosn's rulings came in a lawsuit filed by Mountain State Justice over conditions at the Industrial Home for Youth.
Lydia Milnes, an attorney with Mountain State Justice, said there are some circumstances where mixing adult and juvenile offenders isn't always a problem. But she said mixing adult sex offenders with juvenile offenders who have behavioral or mental issues played a role in safety concerns at the Jones center.