Dept. of Corrections to shut down Camp Summit Boot Camp in LaPorte

By: NewsCenter 16 Email
By: NewsCenter 16 Email

From the Indiana Department of Corrections

Due to the continuous decline in the Indiana Department of Correction’s (IDOC) youth population, the IDOC is announcing plans to close the Camp Summit Boot Camp in LaPorte, IN.

The 72 youth currently housed at Camp Summit will be transitioned to community-based programs or transferred to other IDOC juvenile facilities before the facility officially closes on or about October 1, 2014.

Those who are not scheduled for release before then will be moved to either the Logansport or Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facilities, where there is ample bed capacity available.

To continue the boot camp model, Pendleton Juvenile plans to expand the facility’s current Future Soldiers Program, a paramilitary program that prepares youth as potential military recruits by teaching good citizenship, leadership, self-reliance and responsibility.

Since 2009, when the IDOC Division of Youth Services (DYS) was created, DYS has utilized national best practices to improve treatment and services to the youth in our care. The agency has undertaken major efforts to reduce the length of stay of youth in secure facilities and to assign youth to the least restrictive setting based on their individual needs and risks.

This has not only resulted in the dramatic reduction of the number of youth being held in Indiana’s juvenile correctional facilities, from more than 1,200 youth in 2007 to just over 400 today, but has also allowed that only those youth who pose the greatest public safety risk are being committed to a juvenile correctional facility.

“Due to efforts of our youth services staff, at-risk youth are spending less time in prison and are returning to community programs as quickly as possible to reunite them with their families and provide them with the support they need to be responsible citizens. This move will enable our youth services staff to better serve the youth in our care, while making more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Commissioner Bruce Lemmon.

Approximately 50 Camp Summit employees will have the opportunity to transfer to other facilities or apply for vacant positions throughout the Department following the facility’s closure. The IDOC is working closely with the State Personnel Department to find placement options and minimize the impact on staff. “Our goal is continued State employment for every affected worker,” assured Commissioner Lemmon.

About Camp Summit

Camp Summit Boot Camp was established in 1995 and is situated on 60 acres in Northern LaPorte County between LaPorte and Michigan City. Camp Summit is Indiana’s only Para-military style boot camp which blends military components with a programs approach that addresses the needs of adolescents and affords the best possible environment for change and growth.

Pelath: Camp Summit about to be sacrificed to Pence administration’s surplus worship

Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement upon receiving word that Gov. Mike Pence and the state Department of Corrections (DOC) intend to close the Camp Summit boot camp in LaPorte County:

“It has come to our attention that the governor and his administration will announce in the next few days their intentions to close Camp Summit for budgetary reasons. In other words, they want to eliminate 70 LaPorte County jobs in the service of their increasingly bloated budget surplus.

“If they follow through on this threat, it marks the latest indication that people and jobs don't matter as much as politically crafted financial statements.

“This decision would be particularly crazy because the state is shuttering a program that has a demonstrated impact in turning around the lives of troubled youths. At any time at Camp Summit, close to 100 youths across Indiana have the chance to resume their education, receive counseling, and gain the skills that will enable them to return to society and care for themselves and others.

“But that apparently means nothing to an administration that has no problems with shuttling those youths to other locations around the state, and telling the dedicated staff at Camp Summit that they can either uproot their families or find other jobs. It also will wreak havoc on federal guidelines covering staffing at correctional facilities, leading to less rehabilitation and more wayward lives.

“They only care about one thing: $2 billion in the bank. The havoc they wreak on schools, kids, and our health to get to that figure seemingly means little to them.”

Camp Summit, established in 1995, is Indiana’s only para-military style boot camp. The five-and-a-half month program is designed for juvenile males (average age 16.7 years) from throughout Indiana who have been adjudicated delinquent by Indiana juvenile courts. The medium-security facility has a fully accredited high school and a GED program for some students who are 16 years of age or older. Programs include individual, group and family counseling, as well as substance abuse counseling and classes in parenting and anger management.

Attached below is a copy of the letter that Leader Pelath sent to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence regarding the closure of Camp Summit

Dear Governor Pence:

It has come to my attention that your office and the Department of Corrections intend to close the Camp Summit Juvenile Correctional Facility in La Porte County. This is unacceptable.

Camp Summit currently serves as the state’s only alternative form of juvenile rehabilitation. It provides an environment for at-risk youth to flourish in a structured, para-military environment. As a fully accredited high school, the facility offers students an opportunity to receive their diploma. When the students re-enter their communities, the facility works to ensure they have an opportunity to be productive citizens. But when Camp Summit closes, this positive benefit will end.

The juvenile population currently housed at Camp Summit will be shifted to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, and there will be no staffing increases to match the influx of new juvenile offenders. The increased staffing ratios will harm, not help, at-risk youth.

I can only assume the State Budget Agency and Office of Management and Budget claim that a budget shortfall has involuntarily forced their hand. On the contrary, we have a sizable surplus that has been the subject of boastful press releases from state leaders. The infinitesimal savings from the closure serve no grand purpose.

There is, however, a real human cost. Seventy La Porte County staff members and their families will be thrown into economic turmoil.

The public was not consulted. I was not consulted. Camp Summit should remain open. It should continue to provide opportunities for the youth who made a mistake and simply need a second chance.

Scott D. Pelath, House Democratic Leader

cc: Commissioner Bruce Lemmon, Senator Karen Tallian, Senator Jim Arnold, Representative Tom Dermody

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