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Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Youth Reentry Improvement Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2011
80 pages
This report presents the findings and recommendations of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission regarding the effectiveness of Illinois' efforts to improve reentry outcomes for youth after their release from incarceration.
Although Illinois separates the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) from its adult Department of Corrections (DOC), youth are subject to a system of release decisionmaking, parole, and revocation that is functionally identical to the adult system and modeled on adult culpability and capability. The application of these adult approaches to juveniles is problematic, not only for developmental and fairness reasons, but because this approach does not work. Data show that in 7 out of the past 8 years, technical parole violators (e.g., youth who violated curfew, failed to attend school, are unemployed, failed to obey house rules, etc) represented a greater percentage of the incarcerated juvenile population than any other type of admission; whereas, youth who committed a new offense while on parole composed only 2 percent of the average DJJ population. The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission determined that the current release decisionmaking process for youth undermines the rehabilitation and public-safety goals of the Illinois juvenile justice system. It also concludes that youths' constitutional due process protections are violated by the basic structure and process of Prisoner Review Board revocation proceedings. In addition, the current parole system, which is operated by the DOC's adult parole division, is costly and ineffective at sustaining prosocial youth behavior, improving public safety, and reducing recidivism. Further, the DJJ youth tracking software is antiquated and fails to effectively manage youth assessments, programming, progress, and public-safety monitoring. Recommendations are presented for reform that will promote the effective reintegration of juvenile offenders into the community while ensuring due process protections. Appended supplementary data and information