Illinois DJJ Awaiting Expert Report on Mental Health

“Illinois DJJ Awaiting Expert Report on Mental Health by Ed Finkel

To read this article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website, click here.

The Illinois Youth Center – Kewanee, one of six juvenile detention facilities in the state, has since at least 2000 housed male youth with the greatest mental health needs. But the Kewanee facility has experienced difficulties for that entire time in finding adequate staff, in part due to its remote location, about two hours west of Chicago and away from major universities.

A September 2012 report from the John Howard Association, a watchdog group, found only eight of 17 authorized mental health positions were filled, and youth on average received only about 30 minutes of treatment per week. Also last September, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit alleging the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) did not provide “minimally adequate” mental health or education services, subjected youth to excessive amounts of solitary confinement, failed to protect youth from one another and held them beyond their release date due to a lack of adequate community placements.