The Juvenile Justice Initiative’s April 2018 report, “Detention of Juveniles in Illinois,” examines the current use of juvenile detention across the state, reviews research on the impacts of juvenile detention, examines local and national best practices in Illinois and makes recommendations. Recommendations include:
- Require that juvenile judges and law enforcement exhaust all less restrictive alternatives before using juvenile detention (as currently required by statute prior to commitment to IDJJ) and insist on annually evaluated, consistent and vetted screening tools to support the discretionary decisions.
- Reduce disparities across the state by creating a data focused plan to addressing all disparities including economic, educational, racial, and geographic, in order to ensure that similarly situated youth are treated equally.
- Raise the minimum age of detention to 13 across the state in order to end detention of elementary and middle school age children.
- Reduce reliance on detention and ensure proportionality by doing the following:
- Ensure compliance with existing state law prohibiting detention for status offenses.
- Prohibit detention for non-violent offenses including property and drug offenses.
- End the use of detention for violations of probation by utilizing intermediate community-based sanctions.
- Require 24/7 review of the decision to detain a child.
- Ensure there is a panel of trained and resourced lawyers who are available on the weekend across state to be present in person with youth to represent them in detention review hearings.
- Ensure public and independent oversight of juvenile detention through timely and public reporting of the use of detention, through annual policy analysis of the data with recommendations for improvement, and through routine civil monitoring.
- Revise standards of detention to ensure compliance with national and international best practice and human dignity.