The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission (the Commission) serves as the federally mandated State Advisory Group to the Governor, General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in developing, reviewing and approving the State’s juvenile justice plan for the expenditure of funds granted to Illinois by the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).
The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act specifies four requirements for those receiving federal funds under the Act:
- Deinstitutionalization of status offenders
- Separation of adults and juveniles in secure institutions
- Elimination of the practice of detaining or confining juveniles in adult jails for more than six hours
- Reduction of the disproportionate number minority youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system (DMC or disproportionate minority contact).
The state of Illinois remains in compliance with these requirements. This report details the status of Illinois’ compliance with each of the core requirements and describes specific actions taken by the Commission not only to ensure compliance but to identify and implement strategies for improvement in these areas.
Beyond the core requirements of the federal JJDP Act, the Commission promotes many activities designed to strengthen the juvenile justice system. These activities include supporting juvenile justice data collection, access to counsel, detention alternatives, mental health, domestic battery, reentry services.
In addition to these efforts, one of the Commission’s overarching priorities during 2009 and 2010 was to support the growth and stabilization the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ). Created in 2006, the IDJJ has remained a very ‘young’ State agency since its inception. The Commission has worked to assist IDJJ in realigning its policies and operations in transitioning from an adult-modeled corrections structure to one that accommodates the needs of individual youth. This report provides a detailed overview of the events and progress to date of the IDJJ.
The 2009-2010 Annual Report concludes with specific recommendations of the Commission regarding 1) juvenile justice system improvement and 2) strategies for the continued growth, policy development and strategic direction of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission (IJJC, the Commission) serves as the federally mandated State Advisory Group to the Governor, General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in developing, reviewing and approving the State’s juvenile justice plan for the expenditure of funds granted to Illinois by the United States Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The Commission also is responsible for submitting an annual report to the Governor and General Assembly with recommendations regarding the State’s compliance with the four core requirements of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP Act).
The authority of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission is specified in Illinois statute, as follows (20 ILCS 505/17a-9):
“There is hereby created the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission which shall consist of 25 persons appointed by the Governor. …The Commission shall have the following powers and duties:
- Development, review and final approval of the State’s juvenile justice plan for funds under the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974;
- Review and approve or disapprove juvenile justice and delinquency prevention grant applications to the Department for federal funds under that Act;
- Annual submission of recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly concerning matters relative to its function;
- Responsibility for the review of funds allocated to Illinois under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to ensure compliance with all relevant federal laws and regulations; and
- Function as the advisory committee for the State Youth and Community Services Program as authorized under section 17 of this Act, and in that capacity be authorized and empowered to assist and advise the Secretary of Human Services on matters related to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs and services.”
In administering the federal JJDP Act funds, the Commission works to ensure Illinois’ compliance with the core requirements of the act. Additionally, it works to instill the principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) within Illinois’ juvenile justice system. The Commission must also ensure that programs and policies are responsive to the developmental stages and needs of children and youth.
In its effort to monitor trends, formulate policy and direct funding, the Commission annually funds the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) to research, compile and present annual data on Illinois’ risk factors and the juvenile justice system. The most recent report is Juvenile Justice System and Risk Factor Data: 2007 Annual Report . It presents a broad range of relevant data to juvenile justice professionals with an overview of data across components of the juvenile justice system and summaries on several juvenile justice issues with special interest to Illinois.
The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act comprise several titles, two of which are relevant to the Commission. Title II supports a broad range of juvenile justice activities at the state and local level. Title V supports prevention efforts conducted by units of local government. The FFY2009 Title II allocation was $2,479,000 and the Title V allocation is $33,486. The FFY2010 Title II grant is $2,366,000 and the Title V allocation is $84,945.
The purpose of this annual report is twofold. The first is to review the Commission’s progress toward and recommendations for compliance with the requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. These core requirements include Disproportionate Minority Contact; Separation of Adult and Juvenile Offenders; Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders; and Jail Removal. The second purpose of this report is to highlight several events that have the potential to positively impact the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and its ability to transition away from an adult-modeled corrections structure and move toward a model capable of addressing the specific needs of individual youth.
Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)
Pursuant to section 223(a) (22) of the JJDP Act, states must initiate delinquency prevention and system improvement efforts designed to reduce, without establishing or requiring numerical standards or quotas, the disproportionate number of minority juveniles who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Disproportionate minority contact exists if the rate of contact with the juvenile justice system of a specific minority group is significantly different and/or higher than the rate of contact for non-Hispanic whites or for other minority groups.
The purpose of this requirement is to ensure equal and fair treatment for every youth involved in the juvenile justice system. A state achieves compliance when it addresses DMC on an ongoing basis through identification of the extent to which DMC exists; assessment of the factors which contribute to DMC, if it exists; development and implementation of strategies to address such contributing factors; evaluation of the efficacy of such intervention strategies; and monitoring DMC trends over time.
States are required to submit DMC Identification Spreadsheets (race/ethnicity data for each of nine decision points in the juvenile justice system) as part of the DMC Compliance Plan in the 3-year application/plan.
Status of Compliance
In calendar years 2009 and 2010, Illinois was in compliance with the DMC core requirement.
According to the 2007 ICJIA Annual Report: Juvenile Justice System and Risk Factor Data, in calendar year 2007 (most recent available data), African-American youth between the ages of 10 and 16 comprised 58% of the arrests in Illinois, a level that is almost triple their representation in the general youth population, while white youth were under-represented and arrested at a level about 46% less than their representation in the general youth population. Relative to detention and state facility commitments, black youth ages 10-16 were admitted again, three times their representation in the general youth population. Between 56-58% of youth committed are African-American youth.
The issue of disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system is persistent and extraordinarily complex. There are numerous factors that lead to over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system, i.e. unsafe and impoverished school and home environments, lack of parental support, unfair practices by police departments, and unemployment, to name a few.
For a number of years, the Commission’s primary approach to reducing DMC has been the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) model. The BI is a national organization working to reduce the over-representation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. The BI model requires the active commitment and participation of key traditional and non-traditional stakeholders in the juvenile justice system. The Institute leads stakeholders through a data-driven, consensus-based process that focuses on changing policies, procedures and practices to reduce racial disparities in the system.
In 2010, the Commission’s DMC Committee experienced a change in leadership and subsequently began to assess the effectiveness of existing DMC approaches and strategies. The Committee has determined that Commission resources could be more effectively spent focusing on systems change efforts at the state and local levels than on funding unsustainable programming efforts. To this end, the Commission anticipates that while the current DMC site funding comes to an end, resources will be more strategically targeted toward assessment, analysis, and targeted systems change efforts.
- DMC continues to be a priority. In 2009 the Commission allocated $506,100; in 2010 the Commission allocated $508,400.
- The Commission continued to fund a statewide DMC Coordinator position. One of this individual’s responsibilities is to research the factors that contribute to DMC in Illinois’ communities and to work with the DMC Committee to identify and implement strategies to address DMC and minority over-representation in the various components of the juvenile justice system.
- In 2009, the Commission provided funding for seven DMC sites: Peoria, East St. Louis, Macon County, Sauk Village, and the Englewood, Lawndale, and South Suburban community areas of Chicago. In 2010, the Commission provided funding for three DMC sites: Macon County, the Englewood community area of Chicago, and Sauk Village.
- In 2008, the Commission contracted with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to design and conduct a survey to assess DMC practices across the state. The survey was designed to document the perceptions, attitudes and beliefs of juvenile justice system stakeholders. The Commission determined that the results did not adequately meet the goals of the project and provided insufficient information. The Commission terminated the contract. Future plans include revising the survey design.
- The Commission’s DMC Coordinator participated as a member of the African American Male Taskforce that sought to examine the lack of opportunities, disparities, and adverse conditions facing African American males in the state of Illinois. A report with recommendations was provided to the Governor and General Assembly. This work has assisted in informing the work of the DMC Committee.
- The Commission’s DMC Committee, in partnership with the State’s Safety Net Works program, established a collaborative agreement with the Chicago Police Department whereby youth from the Safety Net Works program will participate in the filming of a training video that will be viewed by all new and existing officers. The video centers on youth and police interaction and details best practice from the youth perspective.
- In 2009, the Commission’s DMC Committee hosted the state’s first DMC Summit, in Alsip. Representatives from each of the DMC sites were in attendance, including State Representative Will Davis, Chairman of the Illinois Black Caucus, and Al Riley, State Representative from the 10th District. OJJDP State Representative Kristie Brackens was in attendance, as well as National DMC Liaison Andrea Coleman. The Summit raised awareness of the nuances of DMC from region to region, and provided a national perspective on DMC. The event also featured personal reflections of each of the state coordinators, and focused on supporting advocacy and sustainability for those providers whose funding will be redirected to other sites and DMC goals.
- In 2010 the IJJC hosted a DMC learning workshop in Oakbrook. The workshop highlighted the work of DMC efforts in the state of Illinois from each funded locality and featured presentations from local DMC Coordinators and stakeholders. The conference also featured a strategic planning session with the newly formulated DMC Subcommittee to help shape the direction of future initiatives. The conference featured local law enforcement agencies, community based organizations, probation officers, and district judges in attendance.
- The Illinois Association of Juvenile Justice Councils (IAJJC) conducted a series of Juvenile Justice Forums across the state of Illinois. The statewide DMC Coordinator and several members of the Commission participated. The Forums were designed to promote the establishment of Juvenile Justice Councils as an effective methodology towards addressing disparities in the juvenile justice and creating overall system improvement. Information was provided at the forums concerning best practice models to address system disparities and alternatives to detention including JDAI, DMC, Redeploy Illinois, and BARJ trainings. The forums were held in Mt Vernon and in Wheaton.
- IJJC Chair George Timberlake was a keynote speaker, at the Connecting Youth and the Community Conference hosted by Macon County DMC . The conference was established to rally community members in Decatur towards DMC efforts and engage stakeholders who had previously not been involved. Commissioner Randell Strickland and the statewide DMC Coordinator also participated in the event.
- The Illinois Models for Change Network in conjunction with the Illinois Juvenile Justice Councils of the 2nd and 4th Circuit hosted the 17th annual Kids, Courts and Schools Conference in Whittington, Illinois. The conference dealt with best practice strategies for working with youth throughout various stages of the juvenile justice system. State’s attorneys, district judges, police officers, youth workers, and probation officers were amongst the attendees present. The Statewide DMC Coordinator facilitated a workshop at the conference educating participants on successful DMC initiatives and best practices across the state in terms of system reform, alternatives to detention and collaborations with schools.
In the event that an adult and juvenile offender is incarcerated at the same time in the same jail or lockup, they must be separated so that they cannot see or hear one another.
Status of Compliance
- In calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010 there were no findings of non-compliance with the separation requirement.
- Illinois has always had a strong history of being in compliance with the separation requirements of the JJDP Act. Before the core requirements of the Act were established, the state had statutorily mandated that adult and juvenile offenders be held “sight and sound separate.”
- The Commission and its contractors continue to offer technical assistance and training for facilities that may hold both youth and adults, and also for any facility contemplating such action.
- The Commission discourages facilities from housing both juveniles and adults as it is difficult to ensure staff are properly trained to deal with both populations. It also generally requires separate staff for juveniles and adults, which becomes costly for the facility.
No minor accused of an act which would not be criminal if committed by an adult may be securely detained in a jail, lockup or juvenile detention center. Examples of status offenses are truancy, running away, underage drinking, ungovernable and non-offenders. Each state is permitted a limited number of times which the prohibition may be broken and still be considered to be in compliance with the requirement (the de minimus number).
Status of Compliance
- In calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010 Illinois was in compliance with the DSO core requirement: Illinois reports that it had no DSO violations in jail or lockup facilities for calendar years 2008, 2009 and 2010.
- In 2008, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 50. Ten counties out of 17 with juvenile detention centers accounted for all 50 violations. During this period there have been no DSO violations in county jails or lockups. Illinois’ de minimus figure for compliance in 2008 was 188 violations.
- In 2009, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 39. Nine counties out of 17 with juvenile detention centers accounted for all 39 violations. During this period there have been no DSO violations in county jails or lockups. Illinois’ de minimus figure for compliance in 2009 is 182 violations.
- In 2010, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 16. Seven counties out of 17 with juvenile detention centers accounted for all 16 violations. During this period there have been no DSO violations in county jails or lockups. Illinois’ de minimus figure for compliance in 2010 is 182 violations.
- The Commission and its compliance contractors provide technical assistance for facilities that house status offenders to encourage better practice and keep Illinois in compliance.
- The Commission, in late 2009, assumed the responsibility for Illinois Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative management, effectively absorbing the Partners Group as an advisory panel. To that end, the IJJC decided to form the Illinois Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (IJDAI) subcommittee comprised of all key stakeholders to provide day to day guidance, oversight and evaluation of the State project.
Juveniles accused of committing acts that would be criminal for adults are not to be securely detained in jails or lockups. A rule of reason is applied, allowing alleged delinquents to be detained for up to six hours for the purpose of investigation and identification. The clock starts the moment a juvenile is placed into a locked setting. This includes any locked room, or when a juvenile is cuffed to a stationary object. At the end of six hours, the juvenile must be released or transferred to a juvenile detention center. Prior to 2000, Illinois used an older interpretation that once the clock started, it could not be stopped until the juvenile was released from custody, even if the juvenile was removed from the locked setting. Starting in 2000, Illinois began using a new interpretation of the rule approved by OJJDP stating that once the clock starts, it can be stopped once the juvenile is permanently removed from the locked setting. Status and non-offenders may never be securely detained. As with the deinstitutionalization of status offenders, each state is permitted a limited number of times the requirement may be violated without bringing the state into non-compliance (the de minimus number).
Status of Compliance
- In calendar year 2008, 37 county jails and 166 municipal lockups in Illinois securely detained juveniles. Of these, 13 county jails (62 violations) and 30 municipal lockups (121 violations) exceeded the six-hour limit at least once, resulting in 183 violations; de minimus is 274.
- In calendar year 2009, 34 county jails and 161 municipal lockups in Illinois securely detained juveniles. Of these, 13 county jails (50 violations) and 25 municipal lockups (113 violations) exceeded the six-hour limit at least once, resulting in 163 violations; de minimus is 270.
- In calendar year 2010, 32 county jails and 164 municipal lockups in Illinois securely detained juveniles. Of these, 14 county jails (43 violations) and 26 municipal lockups (93 violations) exceeded the six-hour limit at least once, resulting in 136 violations; de minimus is 270.
- For the past several years the Commission has provided funding to four detention centers for the purpose of transporting pre-adjudicated youth from local jails and lock-ups to detention centers. The four detention centers received a total $177,375 in SFY2009 and $177,375 in SFY2010. This arrangement gives small, rural jails and lock-ups the ability to transport youth to a nearby detention center within the six-hour time frame. The grant also allows for transportation of youth to and from the detention center for hearings, presuming they are pre-adjudication. The four transportation grants serve primarily downstate counties.
- The Commission and its compliance contractors provide technical assistance and training for facilities that securely detain youth to ensure understanding and compliance with the JJDP Act.
Compliance monitoring is not considered a core requirement, however, pursuant to Section 223(a)(14) of the JJDP Act, the state must provide for an adequate system of monitoring jails, lockups, detention facilities, correctional facilities, and non-secure facilities to insure compliance with the JJDP Act Core Requirements: Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, Separation of Adult and Juvenile Offenders, and Jail Removal. Accordingly, in SFY2009 the Commission funded both the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) to monitor facilities for JJDP Act Core Requirements. In SFY2010 the Commission funded only IDOC. In addition, the Commission funds one full time and one part time statewide compliance monitor to oversee, train and accompany IDOC and IDJJ staff in statutorily mandated Jail and Detention Center monitoring visits.
Status of Compliance
- In calendar year 2008, monitoring and technical assistance visits were conducted at 357 full and part-time municipal lockups, 88 county jails, 17 juvenile detention centers and 4 IDJJ youth centers.
- In 2009, monitoring and technical assistance visits were conducted at 415 full and part-time municipal lockups, 86 county jails, 17 juvenile detention centers and 5 IDJJ youth centers.
- In calendar year 2010, monitoring and technical assistance visits were conducted at 438 full and part-time municipal lockups, 102 county jails, 17 juvenile detention centers and 8 IDJJ youth centers.
- In Calendar Year 2009 the Commission added an additional statewide compliance monitor to assist in handling the increased universe of facilities that require monitoring visits. This was decided upon learning of several new categories of facilities that require monitoring under the JJDP Act at the 2008 Compliance Monitoring Training, hosted by OJJDP.
- In 2009 the Commission provided a grant to IDJJ to develop/revise the Illinois Detention Standards and for compliance monitoring activities associated with county detention centers and Illinois Youth Centers.
Additional Efforts Supported by the Commission
Beyond the core requirements of the federal JJDP act, the Commission promotes many activities designed to strengthen the juvenile justice system. These activities include supporting juvenile justice data collection, access to counsel, detention alternatives, mental health, domestic battery, reentry services, and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. As the activities undertaken in these areas continue, the Commission has chosen to focus this report on providing a detailed overview of the events and progress to date of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice and to provide recommendations for ongoing improvement.
The number of youth sentenced to Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) is small compared to the number of youth locally involved with juvenile justice. However, its operation and policies are critical to the integrity of the entire system. The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission provides advice to the governor, legislators, and people of the State of Illinois concerning the juvenile justice system as a whole. The Commission also directly funds and monitors new initiatives undertaken to improve juvenile justice outcomes. Because of its state of flux, several such projects focused on IDJJ in 2009 and 2010.
Mission Statement: Understanding that youth have different needs than adults, it is the mission of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice to preserve public safety by reducing recidivism. Youth committed to the Department’s care will receive individualized services provided by qualified staff provide them with the skills to become productive citizens.
Created in 2006, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) is still a very young state agency. It therefore must be actively engaged in assessing and realigning its operations, policies, and procedures in order to fulfill its substantial responsibilities to the youth in its custody and the people of the State of Illinois. The Department has recently recommitted itself to this important work.
The problems associated with incarcerating youth in state custody have historically been hidden from view, but public attention is increasingly being paid to the ways in which the State of Illinois is responsible for rehabilitating the delinquent youth in its care. In this time of severe state budget shortfalls, the situation in which IDJJ finds itself is unique — the general public and governmental actors are more aware than ever that youth rehabilitation and reintegration are critical to the safety and security of Illinois’ citizens, as well as key to the solvency of the state for decades to come.
Several events impacting the Department’s future occurred during the Commission’s 2009-2010 reporting period; they are related below. Together, these changes permit the Department to transition away from an adult-modeled corrections structure and move toward a model capable of addressing the specific needs of individual youth. In the wake of the changes detailed below, the Commission expects IDJJ to continue to build upon them in order to create the type of agency Illinois so urgently requires. The Department must continue to fully pursue its unprecedented opportunity to advance the IDJJ mission “to preserve public safety by reducing recidivism.”
IDJJ Mental Health Focus — Incidents and Investigation
Already a matter of great concern, youth mental health became the highest priority over the course of 2009. The number of suicide attempts in IDJJ facilities reached its highest level in several years and in September; an incarcerated youth tragically took his life, the second such incident in an IDJJ facility within a 12-month period. In the wake of the suicide, then-IDJJ Director Kurt Friedenauer requested assistance from Illinois Models for Change, a juvenile justice reform initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation. He asked the group to assess the way IDJJ screened and treated youth for mental health and substance abuse issues and to generate recommendations for the Department.
Several Commissioners were heavily involved with the Models for Change study and report, giving the Commission insight into the issue. The group’s report confirmed that IDJJ’s “existing behavioral health services are inadequate across multiple dimensions – the number of programs, the range of needed interventions, the failure to match individual needs with appropriate services, the lack of evidence-based treatment modalities, the absence of culturally-sensitive services, and an inattention to the needs of special populations.” The report included recommendations for every step of the incarceration process from initial intake screening, through treatment while in custody, to the availability of mental health services in the community upon release.
The Illinois Models for Change report emphasizes the importance of evidence-based assessments and therapies, the need for individualized programs of treatment, the demand for line worker training in adolescent behavioral development, and the shortfalls in mental health staffing at each facility. The information provided in the Models for Change report should provide a newly-motivated IDJJ the information it needs to overhaul its behavioral health services delivery. Several of the report’s recommendations have been adopted as IDJJ priorities and served as a roadmap for the work being done at the Department around youth mental health care and behavioral assessment.
In the meantime, the safety of youth in custody remains a serious issue. The IDJJ has been upgrading its facilities and fixtures for increased safety, according to reports by the John Howard Association. However, improved transparency and accountability is also required of the IDJJ and the State of Illinois. On July 29, 2010, Governor Quinn signed HB5007, the Department of Juvenile Justice Mortality Review Team Act, which provides for an intensive review of the death of any youth in the Department’s custody, similar to the reviews required of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for the children in its care.
The Commission continues to support improved behavioral health screening and service delivery within IDJJ facilities. For some time, the Commission funded a Behavioral Health Director position within IDJJ. During this reporting period, the Commission assisted IDJJ in transitioning this position into a state-funded permanent position. The Commission has, similarly, transferred a previously grant-paid position focused on inspecting secure facility conditions of confinement for youth into to a state-funded permanent position. By transitioning these proven positions to the appropriate authority, the Commission’s grant money can expand mental health screening and services. Currently, the Commission is funding the use of “V-DISC,” a diagnostic tool developed by researchers at Columbia University. The Commission strongly approves of IDJJ continuing to cease and phase out the use of untested and nonmedical “criminogenic” assessment tools.
Focus on Reentry
Another theme emerging in 2009 was how to reduce youth recidivism by better reintegrating youth back into their communities following incarceration. The Collaborative on Re-Entry, a project of Chicago Metropolis 2020, brought a large number of public and private stakeholders together to discuss how better practices surrounding prisoner release for both adults and youth can benefit neighborhood economies and safety. The Collaborative hosted a separate workgroup for juvenile justice issues and youth needs. Several Commissioners participated heavily in the Collaborative’s efforts, working directly with IDDJ management, representatives from DCFS and ICJIA, Cook County Juvenile Courts, the Mayor’s Office, TASC, and area nonprofits.
Like the behavioral health assessors at Models for Change, members of the Collaborative recognized the clear need for programs and services that are both youth-oriented (not adult) and individually-tailored (not one-size-fits-all). The Collaborative also called for a better transition of those services to the community upon release.
IDJJ’s December 2009 presentation to the Collaborative on Reentry stated that the Department was initiating a “mix of services and supervision that is based on risk and need and links to the skill based institutional interventions developed in the youth’s case plan.” To support this work, IDJJ created an innovative new state job classification, Youth and Family Specialist. Unlike the parole officers from the adult-focused Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) who currently supervise youth upon release, the Youth and Family Specialists, housed within IDJJ, will begin to work with youth while they are still incarcerated, well in advance of release. They will simultaneously develop the youth’s community network of support, including family members, mentors, and treatment providers. They will then personally transition each youth back into his/her individual community network. The new Youth and Family Specialist positions are intended to create a release program that is focused on linking youth to the specific community resources each has been identified as requiring in order to be successful, not simply monitoring youth for basic legal compliance. The first class of Youth and Family Specialists will supervise youth entering facilities in late spring 2011.
The Commission applauds the design and creation of the Youth and Family Specialist position. The program has every indication of having a higher success rate than placing youth into the current adult-focused parole system. However, the Commission notes that 33 Youth and Family Specialists were initially budgeted and only 7 have been hired to date. There are currently approximately 1,700 youth on parole throughout the state. In order to evaluate the program’s efficacy and provide a benefit to youth throughout the state, it must be expanded considerably.
In order to accelerate, support and complement this effort, the Commission is developing a grant program to further on best practices surrounding re-entry. The Commission has committed $1.5 million over three years to support re-entry planning and service delivery around the state. In Cook County, where the first Youth and Family Specialists will be employed, project participants will work directly with them, coordinating with IDJJ’s efforts. Funded services could include a range of behavioral health, vocational training, supportive housing, or other structured interventions. The Commission will require grant recipients to deliver primarily evidenced-based practices – programs that have been empirically demonstrated to reduce recidivism, increase public safety and improve youth outcomes. In this way, the Commission’s grant monies will maximize the impact of the state’s current aftercare reforms until they can be expanded.
Members of the Commission also assisted the Illinois Department of Human Services in applying for a $750,000 federal grant under the Second Chance Act. Grant funds will support and evaluate an innovative practice known as Family Integrated Transitions, or “FIT.” A blend of several evidence-based treatment practices, FIT is projected to reduce juvenile felony recidivism by as much as 27%. Employing and tracking FIT to study its effectiveness will allow the state to ensure that its re-entry programming remains current and efficient.
Expansion of “No Entry”
The state as a whole is increasingly aware that a less expensive, often more effective, way to ease the transition of youth back into their communities is to avoid removing them in the first place (“no entry”). In many counties, judges commit youth to the custody of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice in part because the intensive intervention a particular youth requires is unavailable within the county probation system and there is no county funding to create it.
Redeploy Illinois, a program in which state funds reimburse the counties that create infrastructure adequate to keep youth close to home, continues to save money and improve outcomes by alleviating the burden placed upon IDJJ’s residential facilities and release programming. Several Commissioners are actively involved in the operations of Redeploy Illinois. Additionally, the Commission has partnered with the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation) to fund a program liaison position for Redeploy Illinois. The Commission supports Redeploy Illinois as it reduces front-end demand on IDJJ but increases the availability of services that can help to smooth the post-release transition for those youth who have spent time in IDJJ custody.
On April 1, 2010, Governor Pat Quinn issued Executive Order No. 10-05, “Commissioning a Plan for Integrating the Department of Juvenile Justice into the Department of Children and Family Services.” The document required IDJJ to cooperate with the Office of the Governor and six other state agencies to devise a transparent process for integrating the Department into the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In response, a Merger Workgroup was formed that reviewed IDJJ policies, practices, and operations to determine their suitability for integration or shared services with DCFS.
Topics explored by the Workgroup included: describing which priorities required legislative action and which could be accomplished administratively; creating site visit templates to review conditions and operations at each facility; facilitating funding and hiring practices in School District 428 (located inside Illinois Youth Center facilities); collecting research on best practices in juvenile corrections; tracking policies related to the use of confinement and other disciplinary practices; defining which mental health and substance abuse screening and assessment tools would be most useful to IDJJ staff; ensuring that IDJJ training for supervisors, current staff, new staff, and interns was relevant and youth- specific; and defining any infrastructure implications related to labor agreements and informational technology.
Throughout the rest of 2010, the Merger Workgroup remained in close contact with state stakeholders, keeping them apprised of progress on each topical area and coordinating each responsible agency’s efforts to ensure a more effective juvenile justice system.
The Youth Reentry Improvement Law of 2009 charged the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission with completing an intensive study on the reentry and aftercare process for youth. Broadly, the study topics include readiness for release, release decision-making, parole monitoring and links to services in the community. The Commission is also assessing the way in which youth exit parole, either through successful discharge or revocation of parole and return to incarceration. The study is by far the most comprehensive review to date of Illinois’ practices around juvenile release and re-entry.
In 2010, the research team examined records related to 399 youth identified as having their parole revoked during the 6-month period from December 2009 to May 2010. Commissioners also observed 244 juvenile parole hearings, parole revocation hearings, and annual review hearings conducted by Illinois’ Prisoner Review Board. The Commission created standardized forms to gather data on the contents of each of the associated records and meetings. Statistical analysis of this data is nearly complete.
Based on the research team’s preliminary presentation on how the release process currently operates, the Commission expects to issue several recommendations in early 2011. The substantive areas in which the Commission anticipates major changes include: protecting the due process rights of youth facing parole revocation and other hearings; providing transparency and accountability for the system by which indeterminately-sentenced youth obtain release; ensuring that the juvenile aftercare system (currently administered by the Illinois Department of Corrections Parole Division) is revised so that it is appropriate to youth-specific needs upon release. The Commission intends to provide guidance to the Governor, Department, and other stakeholders on the actions necessary to create a true opportunity for rehabilitated youth to successfully reenter society while holding youth accountable to cooperate with their rehabilitation plans both inside IDDJ facilities and back in their home communities.
When IDJJ was created in 2006, many of its operations remained “shared services” with the adult corrections agency, IDOC. Shared services included mental health services; medical services; personnel hiring, training and payroll services; parole services; information technology; budget, procurement, and contract management. While these operations were initially considered administrative in nature and unlikely to directly affect youth, over time it has become clear that some IDOC operations are either incompatible with juvenile corrections practices or inefficient for the facilitation of IDJJ’s youth-focused, rehabilitative mission. In several instances, the policy and procedure reviews conducted by members of the DCFS-DJJ Merger Workgroup confirmed the inappropriate continuation of IDOC practices within IDJJ.
On July 12, 2010, Governor Quinn signed HB 5913, which removes the requirement that the Department of Juvenile Justice share administrative services with the Department of Corrections. The law also encourages collaboration with child-serving agencies wherever possible.
Administrative structure is fundamental to changing institutional culture. The Commission applauds the removal of a substantial procedural hurdle to reorganizing IDJJ so that it can be both efficient and effective in achieving Department goals. However, the Commission is determined to assure that partnerships with child-serving agencies for youth committed to IDJJ not undermine any prevention or intervention programming aimed at diverting at-risk youth before they are committed to IDJJ custody. Still, the Commission approves of this advance and urges continued collaboration between IDJJ and other relevant state actors, ensuring that all appropriate IDJJ “shared services” are conducted with child-serving agencies.
Governor Quinn appointed Arthur D. Bishop as Acting Director of IDJJ on August 1, 2010. He was confirmed into the position on a permanent basis effective January 1, 2011. Director Bishop’s appointment signals the continuing change in government’s perception of IDJJ’s purpose and underscores the administrative culture the Department is responsible to cultivate. Director Bishop has worked in the fields of community mental health, substance abuse and child welfare for 35 years; he has a great deal of experience as both a direct service provider and as an administrator. For the 15 years prior to his IDJJ appointment, Director Bishop worked in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, most recently as the Deputy Director of Field Operations.
The Commission is encouraged by the Governor’s appointment of Director Bishop. The changes expected of the Department and outlined in the previous sections of this report will require IDJJ leadership knowledgeable about successful systems for delivering services to youth. For example, creating shared services agreements with child-serving agencies wherever possible (rather than agencies focused on adult corrections) requires IDJJ management familiar with DCFS operations. Further, Director Bishop’s hands-on experience with youth and families facing enormous challenges should help him to better align the Department’s internal culture — still mostly derived from adult corrections practices — with its mission. Director Bishop is well-qualified to lead the Department and it is the sense of the Commission that his appointment is a vote of confidence in the futures of both IDJJ and the youth in its custody.
The state of Illinois remains in compliance with the core requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP Act). These requirements are Disproportionate Minority Contact, Separation of Adult and Juvenile Offenders, Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, and Jail Removal.
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission makes the following recommendations in the interest of ensuring and strengthening continued compliance with the JJDP Act and improving Illinois’ juvenile justice system.
Recommendations: Juvenile Justice System Improvement
- The Governor and General Assembly must support “no-entry” programs — expand diversion efforts (e.g. Redeploy Illinois) and ensure that any transfer of programs enhances our system’s prevention and intervention efforts.
- A central repository for juvenile justice data in Illinois. Consolidating data more efficiently would increase the accuracy and accessibility of data elements necessary to make better informed decisions about strategy and practice.
- The Illinois State Police must be required to revise the arrest fingerprint card, and any related systems, to allow for the collection of ethnicity data. Collecting accurate data on race and ethnicity is necessary to provide a better understanding of the problem of disproportionate minority contact in Illinois.
- There must be a calculated effort to promote public awareness of DMC across Illinois and its direct impact across multiple systems. Financial resources should be directed to counties and communities with high rates of DMC through existing initiatives such as DMC, JDAI and Redeploy Illinois. Funds should be used to impact the fundamental fairness of the system, to study the extent of the issue, develop and implement strategies to address DMC and to develop and expand alternatives to secure confinement.
- Legislation is required to ensure that juveniles are never securely detained when the sole underlying offense is a status offense.
- Short of legislation, the AOIC should be directed to reduce the amount of funding they provide to detention centers that hold status offenders or non-offenders. The Commission believes that this will discourage county detention centers from housing these youth.
- The General Assembly should revise the Illinois Juvenile Court Act to bring it into compliance with the federal JJDP Act with regard to the length of time a juvenile may be securely held in an adult county jail or municipal lock-up. Current law conflicts allowing for 12 hours (rather than 6 hours) and up to 24 hours in certain circumstances.
Recommendations: Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
- IDJJ must work with various state agencies to ensure that health care, treatment, and administrative services are provided through arrangements with child-serving agencies wherever possible.
- IDJJ must employ evidenced-based screening, assessment, and individualized treatment programs for all youth for all substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral issues.
- Using the IJJC’s upcoming report and recommendations, IDJJ must work with other state stakeholders to develop a transparent system of release decision-making and an aftercare program that provides youth with an appropriate supervised transition back to their communities. If appropriate, expand the Youth and Family Specialist position throughout the state.
- IDJJ must continue to improve programming and conditions for incarcerated youth. Increase the number of hours of instruction per day provided to IDJJ students; provide post-graduate or vocational training to youth who have received a diploma or GED; decrease the use of disciplinary confinement. Track and report the use of “lockdown,” which interferes with educational and rehabilitative treatment opportunities.
Thanks to action by the Legislature and Governor, IDJJ now has the legal authority to make substantive changes to its structure. It is now up to the Department, with adequate resources and support from the Governor and Legislature, to speed its transition from a corrections-focused agency to a treatment-oriented agency.