Officials must also win over Aboulhosn. His December ruling warned that the court would mandate changes unless lawmakers or state officials addressed Salem's outdated and dangerous conditions. He described spare furnishings, small windows and cells that lack bathrooms at a facility that treated youths the same whether they had committed a minor misdemeanor or a serious felony.
Citing expert testimony, the judge found Salem's main building followed a training or reform school approach increasingly considered a failure and particularly harmful to youths age 14 and younger. It is also more expensive than the prevailing community-based approach of focusing on smaller groups to steer juveniles away from further crimes, his ruling said.
"What we are trying to do is separate those individuals from the Industrial Home to facilities that can deal with their specific individual needs, in a treatment-type atmosphere,'' Bond said. "We're going to separate the females, the younger kids from the older kids.''
Juveniles ranging from ages 12 to 20 are now at Salem. Individuals convicted of juvenile offenses can be in juvenile custody until their 21st birthday.
"A 12-year-old should never be housed with a 20-year-old,'' Thornton said. "I don't care how mature you are as a 12-year-old, it's just not a good setting.''