CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A judge says the Industrial Home for Youth at Salem is violating the rights of young offenders, and he's ordering West Virginia's executive and legislative branches to make some serious changes in 2013.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Omar Aboulhosn said Friday that if they fail to address the problems experts identified, he won't hesitate to step in. That could mean ordering the removal of the residents.
An expert witness who testified in lawsuits filed over the facility has recommended its closure, saying it's too prison-like for children and young adults.
The judge agrees, ruling that Salem follows a reform-school model with harsh tactics that harden the offenders' attitudes and lead to higher recidivism.
He also ordered state officials to begin individual assessments to determine whether any juveniles should be transferred.
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