Progress and failure in Illinois youth prisons

November 16, 2011

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WBEZ/Robert Wildeboer
Chris Bernard of the John Howard Association in studio at WBEZ.

Five years after its creation, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is still struggling to live up to its mandate to rehabilitate kids. That's a takeaway from a year-end report by the John Howard Association.

In 20 site visits, the prison watchdog group found education at the youth prisons is lacking, due to understaffing, old school books, and no internet access. Kids don't file complaints because they don't trust the system, which means major abuses could go unreported.

But John Howard also found the state agency making some progress in important areas. WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer talked this afternoon with Chris Bernard, who wrote the report. He says DJJ is implementing a new re-entry program at one of its prisons, Pere Marquette.

Listen to their conversation here.