A Chance to Make Headway for Kids in Trouble

February 17, 2009

A new administration in Illinois is a chance to improve the state's system for incarcerating young people. That's according to Betsy Clarke, president of the non-profit Juvenile Justice Initiative. Clarke says her groups wants to reduce the number of kids in prison. She says at least half of Illinois' eight youth prisons are too crowded for kids to get all the services they need.

"And let me just talk costs. We are now spending over a hundred million dollars to lock up about 1,400 kids acorss the state," she says. Clarke says a better...and cheaper...idea is to keep most kids in special programs in their own communities.

The Justice Initiative was a leader in the drive to raise the age at which kids charged with minor crimes are tried in adult court. Last week, Governor Pat Quinn signed a law that changes that age from 17 to 18.