The Ignoble Experiment

April 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm (Uncategorized)

For reasons I could never fathom, someone decided during the early ‘eighties to make Scioto Village (formerly Girls Industrial School) a coed institution. I suppose it was just an extension of the movement to “normalize” the day-to-day living experiences of the delinquent youth who were committed to us for “rehabilitation.” However, throwing these particular teenage boys and girls together in an open campus setting was just tempting fate. It was also testing the staff’s ability to adequately monitor their extracurricular activities.

Needless to say, this misguided experiment failed dismally. On one occasion, deputy superintendent Duane Johnson and I had to break up an amorous couple who had sneaked off to a room in an abandoned cottage. On another, I had to separate a boy and a girl who were trying to harm one another with a chair leg and a scissors respectively. (And, no, we did not receive hazardous duty pay.)

It was a highly volatile, hormone-fueled environment, populated by teenagers who were already prone towards acting out. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was relieved when the order came down to ship the males off to another institution. The boys, though, didn’t see it that way. When word leaked out that they were scheduled to be bused to Indian River or somewhere the next day, they went on a rampage. They completely tore up their cottage (either Sherwood or Woodbine, I don’t remember which), terrorizing the night staff who couldn’t do anything but take cover.

The morning after, I walked through the empty cottage, stepping gingerly over the piles of debris. There wasn’t a single piece of glass that remained intact. What they could break they had and what they couldn’t they had vandalized. Although a full-scale riot had taken place, the media never caught word of it. I’m not sure how they managed to keep it quiet, but some administrations seemed to be better at it than others. There was always the fear that if youth at another facility heard about a riot, they would stage their own in sympathy.

One of the unexpected consequences of placing boys at Scioto Village was that one in particular got to visit his birthplace. He had been born in the institutional hospital years before when his pregnant mother was committed to GIS as a teenager.

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8 Comments

  1. Judy said,

    This does not surprise me. I wonder how long ago this young man was born. Maybe my mother was his mother. My mother was there in 1953/54 and 1938/1951

  2. mams said,

    Was this part of the girls CHILD STUDY CENTER? I had visited a friend ther in the 1970,s.I know it housed girls and boys and it was a very old building.I dont know if it was torn down. I think it was on High street or West Broad street.ANY PICTURES OR INFO WOULD BE APPRECIATED THANX

  3. Ernie Everley said,

    Yeppers, this is true I was there 80-82 an I had the time of my life, I mean we (the boys) had a great time that night trashing the cottage, (it was woodbine and mrs. “G” was working with I think Mr. hemming? well any way I was taken that next day to Riverview School for Boys across the street. got a girl pregnate at SVSG her name was Libby and she wasent the only girl I had while there also Mrs, King in the nurses office she was fun too.

    • Mike said,

      I live in tico n tcy then they move us boys from tcy to scioto but this was in 1992 to 1995 i was release in 95 as much as i hated bring at these places boys prisons school for boys it was bullshit Had some fun times but more abuse then anything riverview lol sexoffenders go there tico and Indian river was a fuck up place to live too but sex pot alcohol rape suicides all happen i live through it

  4. Cherie M. Valeithian said,

    Interesting that you speak of both boys and girls at Scioto Village in the early ’80s. When was this coed “experiment” exactly? I worked for the Ohio Department of Youth Services for several months in 1982 and again for about a year and a half in 1984-85. I never heard any information, rumor or official, that there ever had been any attempt to make either Scioto Village or Riverview into a “coed” facility, though of course that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    I worked at Mohican Youth Center for a few months in the spring of 1982 and again for about a year 1984-85, and then for several months in 1985 at the Scioto Village/RIverview Complex. At that time the two institutions were in the process of combining administrative services, but the boys were at Riverview and the girls at Scioto Village, across the road from each other. The reason given for administratively combining the two was to save money by eliminating half of the upper administrative staff. Most of the staff, such as the staff who worked directly supervising the youth in the living units worked on one side of the street or the other, and others, myself included, worked part of the time in each institution. I was a vocational rehabilitation counselor working with a pilot program that served youth with CD histories in addition to their history of felony-level offenses, and ran groups both in the boys’ unit and the girls’ unit of the project.

    I’d be interested in hearing from more people, staff or residents, about their experiences as part of a coed Scioto Village.

  5. Judy said,

    I have written before but now have new information. A MAN CONTACTED ME WITH POSITIVE DNA MATCH AT 99% POSSIBLE A SIBLING. HE WAS BORN May 28, 1947. He just found out when his fathered died that he was adopted around Columbus and mother was a young teen and father was possibly a college student. Please if anyone knows how to find out, since everyone but the adult child is deceased. He does have the replacement birth certificate from the adoption.

    • Robin Williams said,

      Judy, Contact the Ohio Historical Society. Scioto closed down in 2014 and sent some of there information to them. Also, Ohio Department of Youth Services, which is what the name is for our youth facilities now, the Records Department would only have copies of the school transcripts and a GED or Diploma.

  6. Robin Williams said,

    Judy, Contact the Ohio Historical Society. Scioto closed down in 2014 and sent some of there information to them. Also, Ohio Department of Youth Services, which is what the name is for our youth facilities now, the Records Department would only have copies of the school transcripts and a GED or Diploma.

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