Governor Mike DeWine announces reshuffle of Ohio Department of Youth Services

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The director of the state agency responsible for the juvenile prison system has stepped down and a new director will begin later this month, Governor Mike DeWine said on Wednesday.

Ryan Gies, who served as director of the Ohio Department of Youth Services, moves to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. But he will not be the director of that agency and will serve as the director of special projects in the department’s office of criminal justice services, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said.

Tierney was silent on why or when the change was made.

“There are often cabinet changes during an administration,” he said. “We are making this announcement and are transparent about the changes.”

DeWine has announced that Amy L. Ast will become the new department manager on December 20. Starting Saturday, Department of Youth Services chief counsel Lew George will assume the role of interim director until then.

Ast worked for the Youth Services Department from 1996 to 2017, most notably as the Head of the Facilities Operations Office from 2008 to 2017 – during which she contributed to several juvenile discipline reforms in the system. including expanding education and learning programs and establishing new retention policies, according to his curriculum vitae.

After her first stint in the department, she worked for Rite of Passage, a company that provides behavioral health, specialized residential treatment and other services for youth and families.

“Amy brings a wealth of professional experience to this position and has a passion to work with and improve the lives of juvenile offenders,” DeWine said in a statement. “I would also like to thank Ryan Gies for his service at DYS.”

The ministry has been criticized for years for its treatment of young people in its custody.

From 2008 to 2019, the department was under the oversight of a federal court as the state scrambled to improve conditions for young people, including revoking its use of solitary confinement, known as “isolation.”

However, in January 2020, a US Department of Justice investigation found that more than 15% of Ohio minors reported being coerced or coerced into sex with young people or staff – the worst rate. of the country and more than double the national average.

Gies has set aside the methodology of the survey. He also said the department investigates every report of inappropriate sexual activity.

“Our number of substantiated cases is quite low, actually,” he said at the time.

Youth advocates criticized his response. Ohio Senate Democrats also said they felt misled by department officials, who they said painted a “rosy” picture of operations at a state supervisory board, just a day before the release of the US Department of Justice report.

DeWine is running for re-election next year.

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