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@issue 360| Issue 14| September 2017

After over three decades of distinguished service,  Dr. Frank Schmauk retired recently from the board of directors of Edison Court, the parent company of Mathom House, Ravenhill, Easton Manor, and PATHS. Although he no longer serves on the board, Frank continues to actively participate in many aspects of programing. 

Frank’s career has been shaped largely by the national and state forces that influenced the direction of juvenile and criminal justice.  The early 1970’s were an era of reform and experimentation.  The year was 1973 and  Frank was commissioned to help determine whether the “right” adolescents were being held at the Camp Hill program for boys. The Camp Hill site was built like a true correctional facility with cells, two tiers, guards and all the trappings of an adult lock up.  Its founders hoped to provide a safe and secure facility for the most dangerous and violent delinquents. There was concern that some of the less affluent or more conservative counties were committing youth to Camp Hill when they may have benefitted from a less secure and less dangerous facility.

At a time when  theorists and practitioners were concerned with deinstitutionalization, diversion, and the removal of status offenders from juvenile court, Frank and many of his peers who were in positions of authority accepted the challenge to experiment.  Frank became a key contributor in Bucks County.  Not only did he open Middle Earth School but with the Court and Juvenile Probation Department he and his colleague Glenn Heath, Ph.D. established a Court Screening Team that they named Bucks Forensics.  Frank and Glenn lead a team of professionals who assisted juvenile probation officers in preparing treatment recommendations for the court. 

As the decade of the 1970’s closed Frank was asked to consider a new challenge.  Promising new approaches to the treatment of adolescent sexual offenders were being discussed in the social science literature.  In the early 1980’s the Juvenile Court began to think seriously of putting together a home grown alternative to the Commonwealth and private treatment alternatives.  Frank was called upon to help put together a residential treatment program, Mathom House.  Mathom was located in the old girl’s wing of the Bucks County Youth Center. 

Mathom House was not an instant success.  There were many obstacles to overcome.  Not everyone was convinced that treatment would work or that the offenders should receive treatment versus punishment alone.  Frank recruited a team of clinicians, developed a treatment curriculum, set intake standards, expanded the facility to ultimately house 32 residents and placed the program on a firm financial platform. Most importantly Frank is appropriately recognized as a pioneer in the modern treatment of adolescent sexual offenders and as man who is both intellectually gifted and a worthy colleague. 

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