IDJJ Mental Health Report Focuses on Staffing, Screening, Solitary by Ed Finkel
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The report from court-appointed expert Dr. Louis J. Kraus on the mental health services provided in Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities details several areas in need of improvement:
Staffing: The report points to the insufficient number of professionals, lack of a child and adolescent psychiatrist, lack of necessary licensing among mental health staff, inadequate salaries, and insufficient number of security staff.
Mental health screening and assessment: The report says IDJJ does not adequately identify youth with significant needs, allows excessive idle time, provides inadequate psychiatric review, and does not adequately separate youth of different ages.
Solitary confinement: Kraus wrote that IDJJ should end confinement for punitive reasons, particularly the improper use of specialized treatment units up to 22 hours per day. He cites a 1990 United Nations resolution supported by the United States that specifically prohibits solitary confinement of juvenile offenders, with which the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry concurs.