Columbus -- Guards in Ohio's youth prisons more often resorted to force to control their young charges last year, according to a new state report.
The report released this week shows that use-of-force episodes in Ohio's juvenile facilities increased 11 percent last year, to an average of six per offender.
Overall there were 2,733 incidents of force recorded in 2013, more than a third at the Circleville Juvenile Correctional Facility, where the most serious juvenile offenders are housed. An average of nine uses of force per offender occurred at Circleville last year for a total of 1,033, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
The statistics were released by the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, a legislative-branch watchdog for state criminal justice programs.
Force is used primarily when responding to acts of violence, which are committed by only about 15 percent of the total number of juvenile inmates, youth Services spokeswoman Frances Russ said in a statement.
Youth Services authorities say force may be used in "exceptional circumstances." It allows corrections officers to use physical force and restraints when juvenile offenders are violent, resisting institution rules or creating a disturbance.
The state report said there were 2,437 incidents in which mechanical restraints such as cuffs and straps were used to incapacitate juveniles, for a total of 871 hours. That represented a sharp increase in the number of incidents but a reduction in the total hours in restraints at Ohio Department of Youth Services facilities compared with 2012.
Use of force rose at three of four juvenile facilities last year. The exception was the Scioto Juvenile Correctional Facility in Delaware, which is closing.
In March the Department of Youth Services was targeted in a federal lawsuit alleging that the agency is unlawfully secluding mentally ill inmates.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com