Illinois counting on Cook County program to fix juvenile parole by Patrick Smith
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Almost nine out of every 10 kids who spend time in Illinois youth prisons end up going back to prison within three years of their release. That high number – 86 percent, according to a report the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice prepared for the federal government last year – costs the state millions of dollars every year. And it’s a factor in the violence perpetrated and suffered by young people in Chicago every summer.
Everybody involved agrees that a key solution is getting these kids a special kind of help so they can stay out of prison. Something more than parole like adults get. The state of Illinois is counting on a small pilot program in Cook County to lead the way in fixing juvenile parole. The program is called Aftercare. The name gives an idea of all that’s intended: counseling, help with school and getting off drugs.