Juvenile justice system in Illinois still struggling

Juvenile justice system in Illinois still struggling by Jamey Dunn

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When the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice split from the state’s Department of Corrections in 2006, it moved forward with a distinct mission: recognize that youth offenders have different needs than adults and address those needs with the goal of helping them turn their lives around.

The philosophy was more about rehabilitation than punishment, and the department was intended to employ best practices and an evidence-based approach to helping troubled children become productive citizens. “The idea behind this change was not just to create a new state agency. More importantly, it was to establish a juvenile justice system rooted in the latest developments in science, psychology and law, and dedicated to providing troubled youth with individualized and comprehensive services designed to safely and successfully return them to their communities,” said a recent report form the John Howard Association, a Chicago-based corrections watchdog group.