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Author Topic: JHA 2011 Year-End Assessment of Department of Juvenile Justice  (Read 2371 times)

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Offline TimeStandsStill

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JHA 2011 Year-End Assessment of Department of Juvenile Justice
« on: November 16, 2011, 03:20:43 PM »
2011 Year-End Assessment of Department of Juvenile Justice

In 2010-11, through the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, JHA assessed the state of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), reforms achieved, problem areas in need of change, and obstacles to those changes. Over the year, JHA conducted almost 20 facility visits during which we met with administration, staff, and youth. JHA also analyzed data provided by DJJ regarding population, discipline, staffing levels, mental health assessments, and other relevant issues to inform our work. This report is the end result of our work.

Since its inception in 2006, DJJ has worked towards becoming a youth focused, rehabilitative and treatment based department in order to create better outcomes for youth committed to its care.

Constrained by limited resources and funding, DJJ is steadily improving operations, programming, education, and reentry services.

Even with the progress that has been made, there are still areas in need of significant improvement or complete transformation, such as use of confinement for non-violent offenses and data tracking in all areas of operation.

Identifying areas in need of improvement is only part of the process. Obstacles, such as budget constraints or population levels, which are either beyond DJJ’s control or are very difficult to address are hindering reform within the department. Overcoming these obstacles must be a priority not only for DJJ, but also the

legislature, the governor’s office, and other key decisions makers. Without a unified effort to fully address these obstacles, Illinois will continue to spend large amounts of money on an incomplete system, undermine public safety, and most importantly negatively impact outcomes for youth in conflict with law.

Read the final report here. (PDF)


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Re: JHA 2011 Year-End Assessment of Department of Juvenile Justice
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 08:47:05 AM »

Report: State must rethink youth prisons
BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau thesouthern.com | Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 7:00 am

SPRINGFIELD - A new report says Illinois is locking up too many juveniles in youth prisons that are understaffed and lack effective programs.

The Chicago-based John Howard Association, which monitors the state's prison systems, says more than two-thirds of the inmates housed within the Department of Juvenile Justice are non-violent offenders who may be unsuited for the prison-like atmosphere of eight youth facilities, including those in Harrisburg and Murphysboro.

The state "spends an enormous amount of resources on youth that would be better served in community based programs rather than in correctional facilities," the organization notes.

It's not the first time the state's Department of Juvenile Justice has been targeted as a cumbersome, under-funded agency that needs to be overhauled.

But, the report could add fuel to a push by Gov. Pat Quinn to close one of the youth prisons. In September, in reaction to the budget approved by the General Assembly, the governor targeted the juvenile lock-up in Murphysboro for closure. He has since backed away from that plan as he and legislative leaders work out a new budget agreement.

Quinn now is eyeing closing up to four developmental centers and two mental health facilities over the next 2 1/2 years.

If a budget deal isn't hammered out in the coming days, however, Quinn spokeswoman Brie Callahan said pink slips for 101 workers at Murphysboro will be sent out Dec. 1 in order to move forward with the closure on Dec. 31.

A lawsuit filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31 seeks to block the closure.

Murphysboro houses about 59 youth inmates in a facility built to handle more than 150. Opponents of the closure say it is a relatively new facility that could handle additional inmates if the state would instead shutter one of the state's older youth facilities.

In its report, the association notes that many of the facilities lack proper staffing levels and up-to-date educational supplies. Internet access is only now being installed at three of the eight prisons.

The agency "must either increase staff or reduce its youth population. Given the state's extreme budget crisis, the obvious solution to staff shortages is to take active steps to reduce the population of DJJ, allowing for more acceptable staff to youth ratios."

Chris Bernard, who wrote the report, said the Murphysboro facility could be transformed into an adult prison to ease overcrowding within that system.