Children as young as 10 years old can be securely detained in Illinois. The number of children detained between the ages of 10 and 12 years old has declined in Illinois over recent years, with some communities avoiding detention of children altogether. But being detained as a child is likely to be a life-altering experience and it is one which is vastly disproportionately borne by Black or African American children in Illinois. In 2019, 71% of children detained in Illinois at 10, 11 or 12 years old were Black or African American. Research on the impact of detention on children raises concerns for the immediate and life-long well-being of detained children and their communities.
Taken together, the research, data and practitioner perspectives indicate an urgent need for Illinois leaders to rethink detention of children, to ensure that alternatives are available to Illinois communities and practitioners and to ensure that these alternatives are utilized in ways which eliminate racial disparities in our responses to children in conflict with the law, protect public safety and enhance the well-being of children and their families.