Core Value: Community Engagement

Community-based collaboration, decision-making and services reduce recidivism more effectively and at lower costs than punitive and incarceration-based strategies. An effective juvenile justice system engages communities as partners and builds the capacity of communities to foster positive youth outcomes.

Communities and local stakeholders must work together to analyze and articulate the needs of their youth and families and to develop rational, fair and effective local strategies to meet these needs.

  • Local stakeholders must exercise leadership and offer expertise and collaboration to create and maintain effective local governance structures which inform development of fair and effective local policy, practice and programming.
  • State stakeholders must encourage and support strong local governance such as that offered by effective Juvenile Justice Councils.

Communities and decision-makers such as law enforcement, courts, probation practitioners and others must have access to and the responsibility to utilize a range of less expensive community-based services tailored to meet the local needs of youth in conflict with the law. Stakeholders must ensure that all youth and families –regardless of race, ethnicity, economic status or geographic location – have access to these critical resources.

  • Maintaining a strong network of high-quality community-based services – including, but not limited to mental health, substance abuse and trauma treatment services – is fundamental to ensuring that youth do not enter or penetrate the juvenile justice system unnecessarily.
  • Failure to provide meaningful access to these community-based services is unacceptably costly to all communities, in terms of human outcomes, lost productivity and higher long-term criminal justice and related costs.
  • In times of fiscal crisis, Illinois stakeholders must maintain and shore up the network of community-based behavioral health services across the state.

School success is critical to positive youth development and outcomes. Schools are critical partners in understanding and meeting the needs of Illinois youth and reducing unnecessary juvenile justice system involvement and penetration.

  • Illinois must examine, understand and address factors which create obstacles to school success and widen “school to prison” pipelines in which youth are referred to the delinquency system for non-criminogenic needs and behaviors.
  • Educational and vocational support is critical for youth while incarcerated and upon return to their communities.

Restorative justice practices and approaches can effectively engage communities constructively, restore crime victims, hold youth accountable appropriately and begin to repair the harm caused by juvenile crime.