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Juveniles with Mental Disabilities: When Incarceration Makes Youth Worse

NCJ Number
Juvenile Correctional Mental Health Report Volume: 2 Issue: 5 Dated: July/August 2002 Pages: 65-66,76
Rosemary Seltzer
Jodi Jackson M.A.
Date Published
July 2002
3 pages
Reflecting on two South Dakota case studies, this article examines the human cost of juvenile justice system punishment-oriented programs and the failure to provide adequate mental health treatment.
South Dakota’s juvenile justice system has come under scrutiny and criticism for not providing appropriate programs and services to meet the educational, mental, and emotional needs of delinquent youth. This article presents the cases of two troubled young men suffering from multiple mental disabilities and serious depression who were placed in State facilities as opposed to private facilities. The first youth, Dean Honomichl, age 14 had been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit disorder and was sentenced to 4 months in the State's juvenile boot camp for breaking into school and stealing $100. Joshua Waldman was diagnosed with serious depression, having experienced physical abuse from his father, and charged with numerous crimes from attempted murder of a police officer to possession of alcohol by a minor. He was placed in a State juvenile prison where he suffered physical and mental abuse. These two young men were troubled when they entered the system and came out far more troubled and more dangerous due to the lack of adequate mental health treatment. The South Dakota juvenile justice system was viewed as failing both youth and society.