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Moving Beyond Transition: Ten Findings and Recommendations on the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
32 pages
The John Howard Association (JHA), Illinois' only non-partisan prison "watchdog," presents 10 recommendation for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) based on JHA's monitoring of IDJJ's facilities and operations.
This report notes at the outset that IDJJ is in a period of transition after its separation from the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Based on recent progress, JHA concludes that IDJJ has taken important steps to move beyond its transition from IDOC. In the past year, IDJJ has gained increasing control of its own operation, as it has developed critical executive staff positions and assumed responsibilities for training staff and supervising youth after they are released from confinement. This report offers 10 recommendations that the JHA believes will further advance the work of IDJJ. First, consistently monitor mental health staffing at all facilities to ensure that youth receive the required level of treatment. Second, eliminate the use of confinement as a punishment in all IDJJ facilities; use it only for security purposes. Third, provide opt-out HIV testing to youth as a part of routine medical screening at intake, and make HPV vaccination available to all youth in facilities. Fourth, review and revise current practices, programs, and policies in order to identify barriers to family involvement and visitation. Fifth, improve reliability, oversight, and youth confidence in the grievance process through a third-party ombudsman. Sixth, continuously collect and analyze juvenile justice data that relates to race/ethnicity and racial disparity. Seventh, improve procedural fairness and outcomes in juvenile reentry and parole. Eighth, improve oversight and accountability of independent service providers by monitoring contract performance. Ninth, increase the collection, analysis, and use of data in policymaking and planning. Tenth, develop and institute an initiative to facilitate voter registration and absentee voting among eligible youth.