The DYS Mt. Meigs Campus Wins National Award

Mt. Meigs Campus, located in Montgomery County, Alabama, was selected as the winner of the corrections category for the 2022 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen National Award. The 780-acre campus, with an average daily male population of 112 residents aged 13-18, has a dedicated staff who’ve worked diligently over the last several years to transform an old correctional facility and approaches to a place that prioritizes positive youth development practices and offers young people opportunities to thrive.

After ensuring their data was accurate and comprehensive, the Mt. Meigs PbS team began to focus on improving critical issues, beginning with the overuse of confinement to respond to problematic behavior and collateral outcomes such as high rates of assaults and fights and use of restraints shown in their 2019 PbS data. The team knew all were related and created a comprehensive Facility Improvement Plan (FIP).

Drilling into the use of confinement, they saw most instances occurred during school hours and involved the young people in the General Educational Development (GED) program, who were mixed with the kindergarten- grade 12 students. The team took several steps to address the overuse of confinement: The team moved the GED students to a new, separate location where they could better learn skills to obtain jobs and prepare for release and created a tier level behavior management plan to address negative behaviors, including appropriate consequences for specific violations and incentives to encourage positive behaviors. The highlight of the incentive program was the “Snack Shack,” a student created and managed tropical-themed game room where young people can relax and purchase food and accessories using reward “bucks” earned for positive behavior. The team also created a staff focus team to intervene with young people before situations escalate to needing restraints or isolation. The focus team is available to meet with young people, walk around the grounds or talk in the focus room, a nautical themed space displaying the slogan, “Be Calm. Stay Anchored.”

Additionally, staff were trained on de-escalation techniques and alternatives to confinement and leadership developed an employee recognition program that recognized outstanding performance on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. Employee Council representatives were enlisted to survey staff for input regarding safety issues, with responses then informing staffing patterns and schedules, as well as identifying proactive ways to reduce incidents.

Likewise, a youth council comprised of two residents from each dorm was established to gain input from young people. The ongoing goal of the youth council is to develop recommendations to enhance youth and staff relations, decrease fear, increase positive behavior and identify areas of concern.

With these changes implemented, data in 2022 showed a drastic reduction in incidents and confinement at Mt. Meigs Campus. Use of confinement dropped significantly— with equally impressive percentage reductions in the average duration of confinement, number of incidents and use of physical and mechanical restraints.

PbS congratulates the team at Mt. Meigs for their improvements and success! We thank you for your continued hard work and dedication to treating every young person as one of our own.

The PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award was established in 2007 to honor Barbara Allen-Hagen and her retirement from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Her dedication to improving the quality of life in facilities has helped drive PbS to its current success. The award is given to a correction, detention/assessment and community program who best exemplify PbS’ commitment to treating every young person as one of our own by developing and implementing strategic plans aimed at creating positive outcomes for young people, staff and families.

  • Provided by Kim Godfrey Lovett, Executive Director of Performance-based Standards (PbS) on 19 Jul 2022