The state’s only juvenile boot camp is being relocated, but the facility near LaPorte will not be closing its doors.
Female juveniles housed by the Indiana Department of Correction in Madison County will be transferred to Camp Summit, which is located at Johnson Road and 500 West.
The 85 male offenders currently at Camp Summit will move to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility for boys, where the boot camp program will be housed.
Ike Randolph, a DOC spokesman out of Indianapolis, said the move is in response to a dramatic drop in the juvenile female offender population and rising adult female prisoner numbers.
There were close to 200 juvenile female offenders 10 years ago at the over 170-bed facility at Madison County that now houses fewer than 40 juvenile females, according to the DOC.
The space in Madison County is on the same grounds as a separate DOC-operated building for adult female offenders, and will be used to prevent overcrowding at the facility next door.
"It’s really just to make sure we’re utilizing our facilities the best we can," Randolph said.
He said there could be a cost savings from efficiencies achieved from the move, but it’s too early to say how much.
The change also helps families of female juvenile offenders from the northern part of the state by eliminating trips to southern Indiana for personal visits.
A significant portion of the female juveniles at Madison County are from north of Indianapolis, Randolph said.
"Moving them up north places them closer to their families," Randolph said.
According to the DOC, the decline in juvenile female offenders has much to do with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a program used in close to 300 counties nationwide.
The focus of the initiative is keeping juveniles, especially nonviolent ones, out of jail as they await the outcome of their court cases. This is due to findings say that young offenders kept incarcerated during that period have a higher chance of being sentenced to prison.
Going to prison can have a more serious impact on their prospects of future success, according to the DOC.
Randolph said Camp Summit will have to undergo only slight physical changes in its restrooms and changing the color scheme from male military to something more appropriate for females.
“In particular, the arriving female juveniles will take part in making the facility their own by assisting in the painting of murals," he said.
In 2014, DOC chose to shut down Camp Summit, but after much lobbying by local state lawmakers, four months later the decision was reversed.
Camp Summit was established in 1995 as a boot camp for male juveniles the DOC felt would respond favorably to the structure provided in the paramilitary-style program.