Overview of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Releases First Annual Report
Lee Edwards | 1/7/2015, 4:41 p.m.
Last month, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) released its first ever annual report in particularly providing an overview of its service and its impact on Illinois’ youth.
“The IDJJ is dedicated to providing a safe, supportive environment and individualized services to help our youth successfully re-enter their communities and become productive citizens,” said IDJJ spokesperson Alka Nayyar. “Our ongoing efforts in all areas to improve long-term outcomes for youth, as outlined in the Annual Report, continue in 2015.”
The IDJJ was established in Nov. 2005 by the 95th General Assembly when House Bill 0900 (HB0900) was passed and signed into law by former Ill. Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. HB0900 formally separated the juvenile justice division from within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) thusly creating an independent agency. The IDJJ received $125 million of “budget neutral” funding in a direct transfer from the IDOC.
The IDJJ works to enhance public safety and promotes positive youth outcomes by providing specific individualized services to youth in a safe learning and treatment environment so that they may possibly return to their communities.
The IDJJ rehabilitates youth ages 17 to 21 who have been committed to state custody by way of juvenile court delinquency proceedings according to the IDJJ report. Youth under the age of 17 who have been tried as adults may also be housed at an IDJJ facility or Illinois Youth Center (IYC).
In FY2014, the average age of youth in the care of the IDJJ was 17 with the average time residing at a IYC was nine months. There are a total of six IYC centers within the state, one of which is located in Chicago.
The Chicago IYC is a rehabilitated warehouse located on the city’s west side. It opened in 1999 and as June 30, 2014 it houses 72 individuals whose average age is 16 and serves as a drop-off center for all juvenile parole violations in the Chicagoland area. With the aid of federal grants, the Chicago IYC is able to contract re-entry services that assist youth to transition back to their communities upon release.
Documented in the annual report, too, among several items, are the statistics on the population of youth housed by the IDJJ within its IYC facilities compartmentalized by facility, age, sex, ethnicity/race, county, jurisdiction, offense class, and education.
As of Aug. 31, 2014, of the 726 youth within the IDJJ population, 74 where located at the IYC Chicago location; 694 (94%) were male; 491 (68%) were between the age of 17-20, with the remaining 32% being 16 years old and younger; 306 (42%) were native to Cook county; 676 (94%) were juvenile court commitments; and 178 (25%) and 235 (32%) were convicted of Class 1 & felonies, respectively.
“Through individualized treatment, programming, and comprehensive case management, the Department is well-positioned to make significant progress in providing age-appropriate, rehabilitative care that can reduce recidivism and increase positive youth outcomes,” said Nayyar. “There is much to accomplish, but with the support of several key stakeholders, IDJJ is taking on the challenge to fulfill its statutory mission of acting in the best interests of the youth who are committed to its care.”
According to a National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) criminal justice fact sheet with statistics obtained by the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, African Americans make up 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons nationwide.
For more information about the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice visit https://www.illinois.gov/idjj/Pages/default.aspx.