WBEZ | Department of Juvenile Justice http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-juvenile-justice Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Report: Youth prison in Chicago has inadequate teacher staffing http://www.wbez.org/news/report-youth-prison-chicago-has-inadequate-teacher-staffing-108008 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chi(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The educational staffing at the Illinois youth prison in Chicago is &ldquo;grossly deficient,&rdquo; according to a report released this week.</p><p>The report is the result of a monitoring visit prison watchdog group The John Howard Association made to Illinois Youth Center Chicago on January 29 of this year.</p><p>During its visit the group found the prison&rsquo;s student-to-staff ratio to be lacking, particularly in its mental health classes.</p><p>&ldquo;Lack of educational and vocational resources for justice-involved youth represents an endemic, enduring problem,&rdquo; the study reads.</p><p>According to the report, the Chicago youth prison has made strides in helping prepare youth to return to their communities. And report author Jenny Vollen-Katz praised the facility&rsquo;s leadership for its early school enrollment program, which helps jailed kids return to school immediately after being released.</p><p>But she said the youth prison continues to struggle with educational programming, family engagement and its parole system.</p><p>&ldquo;Absent access to vocational and educational programming &hellip; [it is] unreasonable to expect youth to succeed at reentry upon leaving [the youth prison],&rdquo; Vollen-Katz wrote in the report.</p><p>According to the report, educational staffing at Chicago does not meet minimum state standards.</p><p>At the time of John Howard&rsquo;s visit, the Chicago facility had a ratio of one teacher for every 27 special education students. State law requires a limit of 15 special education students per teacher.</p><p>&ldquo;These are kids that need help and they qualify for getting help and to be placed in classrooms where the student teacher ratio is that high means they&rsquo;re not getting the kind of attention they need to learn,&rdquo; Vollen-Katz said.</p><p>During the visit Vollen-Katz said she saw one classroom staffed by a guard rather than a teacher. Students were forced to stay in the classroom for at least an hour even though there was no educational instruction or reading going on, Vollen-Katz said.</p><p>According to the report, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice told The John Howard Association that staffing levels had improved at the Chicago facility after the group&rsquo;s visit.</p><p>The report calls those improvements promising, but Vollen-Katz said safeguards are needed to make sure adequate staffing levels are maintained consistently.</p><p>Beyond staffing, the report criticizes the Chicago prison for failing to provide any training or education to youth&nbsp; who have already obtained their high school diploma or GED.</p><p>Instead, those youth prisoners are left &ldquo;idle, frustrated and disengaged,&rdquo; according to John Howard researchers. .</p><p>Vollen-Katz called for more spending on educational programming and staffing because, she said, education and training help reduce recidivism.</p><p>Officials with the Department of Juvenile Justice declined a phone interview for this story and did not provide comment before deadline.</p></p> Wed, 10 Jul 2013 07:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-youth-prison-chicago-has-inadequate-teacher-staffing-108008 Illinois ranks 5th in decreasing number of incarcerated youth http://www.wbez.org/illinois-ranks-5th-decreasing-number-incarcerated-youth-107764 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chi_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois decreased its number of incarcerated youth by almost 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to a report released this week.</p><p>The study, by the National Juvenile Justice Network, found that Illinois had the fifth largest decrease of incarcerated youth in the country during that span.</p><p>The director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, Arthur Bishop, said the report highlights a comprehensive effort by the state.</p><p>&ldquo;We work to prevent youth on the front end from coming in, we work diligently to prepare them to to return to their communities and then we work diligently to keep them in their communities,&rdquo; Bishop said.</p><p>Bishop said what was most essential was that all parts of the government who deal with youth crime worked together to keep kids out of jails and prisons.</p><p>The study&rsquo;s authors and Bishop both pointed to a program called Redeploy Illinois as a major driver of the decrease in the number of incarcerated youth.</p><p>Redeploy was created by the legislature in 2004 and provides financial incentives for 28 Illinois counties to find alternatives to incarceration.</p><p>The program&rsquo;s funding is set to double in the next state budget.</p><p>Elizabeth Clarke, the head of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, said that expansion is one reason she expects the youth prison population to continue to drop.</p><p>She said the national report is encouraging but said Illinois needs to do even more to keep kids out of its jails and prisons.</p><p>&ldquo;Incarceration for juveniles is just a failed public policy and we need to shift our dollars and investment to local community services,&rdquo; Clarke said.</p><p>Finding alternatives to incarceration is better for kids, communities and the state&rsquo;s budget, Clarke said.</p><p>Until now Redeploy Illinois cost the state about $2.5 million per year.</p><p>That&rsquo;s compared to the budget for the entire Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, which is more than $120 million every year.</p><p>Clarke called the amount spent on Redeploy a &ldquo;ridiculously low amount of money.&rdquo;</p><p>The juvenile justice report, called The Comeback States, focused on the nine states that have made the greatest strides in cutting their number of incarcerated youth.</p><p>The state with the largest decrease was Connecticut, which cut its total in half.</p><p>According to the report, much of Illinois&rsquo; success in decreasing its youth prison population this past decade simply made up for a dramatic increase in the number of incarcerated youth in the years before.</p><p>Between 1985 and 2000 Illinois had the second largest surge in its number of incarcerated youth in the country.</p><p>The number of kids behind bars in Illinois doubled during that 15 year span.</p><p>Sarah Bryer, the report&rsquo;s co-author, said the reversal of that trend in Illinois is &ldquo;a great example&rdquo; of the importance of having a mix of policies dedicated to keeping youth out of prison.</p><p>&ldquo;Illinois was very explicit in trying to do better by kids and keeping them out of state-run facilities,&rdquo; Bryer said.</p><p>Bryer called incarceration a &ldquo;very expensive resource&rdquo; that states don&rsquo;t use wisely.</p><p>Besides the costs, Bryer said there is good reason to try and keep young people out of prison.</p><p>&ldquo;State facilities are largely ineffective. Kids go into state facilities, they are exposed to violence, they are separated from their families and their communities,&rdquo; Bryer said. &ldquo;Once they&rsquo;re incarcerated it&rsquo;s very hard for them to get back on track in the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Youth prison director Bishop said the state has cut the number of kids in its prison facilities by almost 60 percent since 2000.</p></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 09:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/illinois-ranks-5th-decreasing-number-incarcerated-youth-107764 Youth prison's suicide-watch cells still lack suicide-proof beds http://www.wbez.org/story/youth-prisons-suicide-watch-cells-still-lack-suicide-proof-beds-91805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-12/cityroom_20100316_rwildeboer_624983_Insi_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>A youth prison in the Chicago suburbs still does not have suicide-proof beds in all its rooms, including those where kids on suicide watch are kept. This comes two years after a young man incarcerated at the St. Charles facility killed himself.</p><p>Some of the rooms at St. Charles already have what are called "safety beds," specifically designed to prevent their use in suicides. But not in the confinement cells, where kids go when they're put on suicide watch.</p><p>Prison watchdog John Howard Association warned about this in July, calling it "absolutely unacceptable."</p><p>The state's Department of Juvenile Justice noted at the time that a contractor's bid had been accepted for new beds, and the director said he hoped to have them all installed "within the next month or so."</p><p>Two months later, those beds are still not installed in those rooms used for suicide watch, according to department spokesman Kendall Marlowe.</p><p>Marlowe notes that getting the suicide-proof furniture takes time, as it is made of custom-molded plastic. He says remodeling work has begun at St. Charles, and "anticipates" installation of safety furniture will be completed at all juvenile justice facilities by the end of this year.</p></p> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/youth-prisons-suicide-watch-cells-still-lack-suicide-proof-beds-91805 No suicide-proof beds for kids in suicide cells http://www.wbez.org/story/no-suicide-proof-beds-kids-suicide-cells-88902 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-08/DSC_0646.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The youth prison in St. Charles Illinois doesn't have suicide proof beds in cells where kids on suicide watch are kept.&nbsp; That's according to a report released today by a prison watchdog group.<br> <br> A suicide at the youth prison a couple years ago led administrators to start installing beds that are like big plastic boxes.&nbsp; They're designed so suicidal kids can't hang themselves off any part of the bed.<br> <br> Chris Bernard is with the John Howard Association, the prison watchdog group that released the report today about the conditions inside the prison.&nbsp;</p><p>Bernard says suicide-proof beds were installed in the special treatment unit but they still aren't in the confinement unit, which is where kids on a suicide watch are actually kept.&nbsp; "So a youth who they know is at risk of suicide is being put in a room where he could use the bed to harm himself," says Bernard.<br> <br> Bernard also found the prison doesn't have an infirmary so sick kids are being held in the solitary confinement unit.&nbsp; Bernard says its like kids are being punished for getting injured.<br> <br> A spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice says they're reviewing the report.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 19:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/no-suicide-proof-beds-kids-suicide-cells-88902 Inside and Out: Keeping kids out of prison for good http://www.wbez.org/story/aftercare/inside-and-out-keeping-kids-out-prison-good <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//iycchicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Young people often face a rocky transition when&nbsp; they get out of prison and go home. Most talk about turning their lives around. And yet, in Illinois, half these kids end up back inside.</p><p>Yesterday, as part of our juvenile justice series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/insideandout">Inside and Out</a>, we met a family that appears to be giving up on their 18-year-old son because he keeps getting arrested. Their lives are too busy and stressful - they're worn down.</p><p>But today,&nbsp; we spend time with Gail, who seems to bring endless energy to the often challenging job of raising a teenage son in a city full of pitfalls.<br> <br> Gail's son has been giving her a lot of trouble over the past couple years.<br> <br> GAIL: As a parent, I wish they had a drop off center, you know when you take little newborns and you get to...&nbsp; That's how much I feel out of control with helping him.<br> <br> Gail's son, and we're not using her last name to protect his identity, he's doing his second stint at IYC Chicago, a prison for kids, and she's worried about him getting out of prison because when he came out the first time he ended up going straight back to his gang.<br> <br> GAIL: He didn't want to go back out there to his friends but it was so powerful.&nbsp; I don't want him to come home.&nbsp; I don't.&nbsp; Cause we're here now, I could be in the funeral home tomorrow.&nbsp; I'm scared for my son to come home because it's going to pull him back.&nbsp; The gangs are there to catch him, always.<br> <br> The youth prison where Gail's son is being held in Chicago is an unremarkable building on Western Avenue just south of the the Lake Street "L" line.<br> <br> The exterior is a mustard yellow metal and it kind of looks like a school gym.<br> <br> On this evening, Gail's come to a parent meeting, one of the first.<br> <br> It's a new idea Earl Merritt came up with.<br> <br> He's the superintendent, what would be called a warden in an adult facility.<br> <br> MERRITT: I think that if we're going to be successful working with our kids we have to find a way to reunite families.&nbsp; You have to put kids back with their families and I believe this is a big step toward doing that.<br> <br> Merritt's idea is kind of a shoe string budget solution to a huge problem that's gone unsolved in the department and it's this:<br> <br> Kids leaving prison all talk a good game about finishing their education, being productive, and yet they often immediately fall back into old habits.<br> <br> Within months a lot of them are back inside.<br> <br> The original plan for the 4 and a half year old deparment of juvenile justice included so called aftercare, a network of support on the outside.<br> <br> Aftercare is supposed to provide support for kids who often don't have the skills and maturity to get back in school or get a job on their own.<br> <br> But at least right now, such a safety net doesn't exist.<br> <br> So Merritt and his employees are trying to do what they can.<br> <br> MERRITT: All it takes to succeed in this is just to care. There's no great deal of skill.&nbsp; You find that when you work with people who care about what they're doing, who believe in the mission, and believe in the goals of what they're doing, the work becomes easy.<br> <br> All the employees involved in the parent's night are volunteering their time to attend the meeting after work.<br> <br> They've invited parents like Gail to come in and talk about what they'll need when their sons come home.<br> <br> The meeting is being held in the prison's visiting room.<br> <br> Noisy vending machines line one wall.<br> <br> On the other side is a table with a bucket of ice and some pops.<br> <br> There's an enormous tray of cheese cubes and rolled up cold cuts with toothpicks sticking out of them and saran wrap draped over top.<br> <br> MERRITT: I will not be disappointed if only two mothers or two fathers show up here today and listen to what we have to say, I will consider it a success.<br> <br> WILDEBOER: That's a lot of cold cuts for them to eat though.<br> <br> MERRITT: Well there's you and I after, after the things over with.<br> <br> Merritt's projection is on the money.<br> <br> Other than Gail and her ex husband, only one other parent shows up.<br> <br> But the dozen or so staff pull chairs into a circle and explain what they do.<br> <br> SOT: My name is Cara Murphy.&nbsp; I actually work with the...<br> <br> When the presentations are over Gail starts in on her long list of concerns.<br> <br> One of the main ones is her son's drug habit.<br> <br> She wants to get him into a drug program as soon as he's released but she doesn't have any money to pay for it.<br> <br> GAIL: He at sixteen is all tapped out with insurance and benefits and lifetime coverage, he's tapped out at sixteen.&nbsp; So I can't go see a counselor any more because he's used all his sessions.&nbsp; So I need something.<br> <br> MURPHY: And I think that's completely reasonable and…<br> <br> Murphy and the others tell Gail that they have a database of drug counseling providers that charge on a sliding scale and they should be able to find one in her neighborhood.<br> <br> Gail also wants a mentor for her son to combat the lure of gangs, and she wants to get him into a program to keep him busy when he gets out.<br> <br> For every concern, staff members come up with some possible solutions and they tell Gail they'll make some calls and get back to her.<br> <br> In less than an hour Gail, who knows her son better than anyone, is on the way to getting the resources she thinks her son will need to stay out of prison.<br> <br> And she says it was therapeutic to be able to talk about these issues and get some help.<br> <br> That meeting was actually last June and in the intervening six months since prison employees followed up with Gail on every issue she raised.<br> <br> But her son was released in September and it hasn't been without challenges.<br> <br> GAIL: He got released on the 15th and on the 19th he was arrested.<br> <br> Gail says he was arrested for throwing gang signs and cluttering up the sidewalk and quote, "intimidating people."<br> <br> Now she knows that her son isn't an angel but she readily admits when he breaks the law and this sounds to her like a bogus charge.<br> <br> GAIL: It almost seems like they're just gonna keep charging him, charging him, 14, 15, 16, 17 and wham we got him, 18-years-old lets send him to 26th and California, so that's the path that I believe they're on with my son, the police and task force around here.<br> <br> Gail says police also shared her son's juvenile record with her neighbors at the local CAPS meeting but she doesn't want to make a fuss over the disclosure because she doesn't want to draw more police attention to her son than he already gets.<br> <br> And Gail has had difficulty scheduling with the non-profit groups the prison staff worked so hard to hook her up with.<br> <br> Here's one example... they connected Gail with a counseling center near her house and she made an appointment to start individual, group, and family counseling but…<br> <br> GAIL: They only had interns for the sessions and my insurance only pays for certified therapists, so that fell through.<br> <br> In the end, her son was out of prison without any services from the Department of Juvenile Justice.<br> <br> GAIL: The only thing that is for sure is that his parole officer will come by once a month for five minutes, give him a drug test and that's it, and that's it.&nbsp; What is that?&nbsp; What is that?<br> <br> BISHOP: DOC parole agents, they do what they do.&nbsp; And this is what they've been trained to do is to monitor.<br> <br> Arthur Bishop is the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency that runs the prisons for kids.<br> <br> BISHOP: We're starting at ground zero in developing an aftercare program.&nbsp; There is no aftercare, true aftercare program.<br> <br> Right now, even though kids go to youth prisons, when they get out they're under adult parole.<br> <br> Those parole agents just show up to see if kids are breaking any rules, and if they are, they bring the kids back to prison.<br> <br> But, Bishop says, that's going to change.<br> <br> 7 people start training this week to become so called aftercare specialists.<br> <br> They'll be case managers so that if a kid is violating parole by say, using drugs, instead of just sending him back to prison, these new case workers will try to get the kid some treatment.<br> <br> Another 14 are scheduled to start in May.&nbsp;<br> <br> All of those employees will be working in the Chicago area but Bishop says he hopes to hire even more to work across the state.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p><p>And an update: Earl Merritt was recently retired as superintendent of I-Y-C Chicago.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 03 Feb 2011 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/aftercare/inside-and-out-keeping-kids-out-prison-good Inside and Out: Stress and fatigue can defeat families http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families <p><p>Nearly half the kids leaving Illinois youth prisons end up back inside. They just can't make it outside. The pull of the old life is strong, and a lot of times,&nbsp; the families of young offenders just can't get them back into school, or a job, or away from the street.&nbsp; It's a wasteful cycle…for the state and especially for the lives of kids themselves.&nbsp; WBEZ's<a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"> Inside and Out</a> team met a lot of these young people last year as we reported on the state's youth prisons. We're revisiting some of them this week, as we begin a look at what it would take to keep more kids out of prison for good.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>When Meechie was in the Chicago prison for kids his mother and grandmother visited him without fail.<br> <br> SHAPREE: She wants to go every weekend.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's my oldest grandbaby and he's locked up, he can't get out and I know I would want to see somebody, at least on the weekend.&nbsp; I love my baby I'm sorry.&nbsp; I just love my grandson.<br> <br> SHAPREE: That's not teaching him a lesson of him missing us and him doing what he needs to do.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's teaching him a lesson.&nbsp; I think he have learned his lesson.&nbsp; I don't want him to think that I gave up on him.&nbsp; I haven't gave up on him during the times that he was doing the stuff he wasn't supposed to be doing so I'm not giving up on him now.<br> <br> They drive a couple miles through a heavy rain on a Saturday morning from the house on Chicago's West Side to the youth prison on Western Avenue, a few lights north of the Eisenhower.<br> <br> I should say here that we're not using Meechie's last name to protect his identity because of his status as a juvenile offender.<br> <br> On the way to the prison on this morning, his mom and grandmother stop to pick up Meechie's son.<br> <br> JOSIE: Hello Foo-foo.&nbsp; Say 'hi.'<br> <br> The three of them head into the prison and spend a couple hours with Meechie in the visting room but it doesn't go well.<br> <br> Meechie is down because he recently got a ticket for a disciplinary infraction of some sort, nothing major but it's got him worried.<br> <br> The judge in his case said she'd keep him in prison if he didn't stay out of trouble.<br> <br> But in the hearing a week later, a guard from the prison calls Meechie a quote, "model youth."<br> <br> That, along with his good grades impressed the judge and she let him out.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah, I was praying all night so I could come home!&nbsp; Fixin' to go to the house, get in the shower, and change my clothes and stuff.<br> <br> Back at home, on his front porch, Meechie says all the right things, the things he heard over and over from staff in prison.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah I'm fenna get my GED.&nbsp; I'm probably fenna go to Malcolm X, get my GED.<br> <br> But actually going to Malcolm X city college and signing up, that doesn't happen before he's arrested on a drug charge just a couple weeks after being released.<br> <br> For whatever reason Meechie didn't go sign up on his own.<br> <br> He isn't mature enough, or determined enough, or something.<br> <br> And his family didn't help and no one else was on him to make sure he got enrolled.<br> <br> And his new case is an adult case because he's 18 now.<br> <br> On the plus side, he's not being held at the Cook County jail though he does have to spend his days there as part of a day reporting program, a way for the jail to keep an eye on him without having to actually keep him 24/7.<br> <br> But the hearings in adult court are confusing, and frustrating and often times degrading.<br> <br> At his first hearing he didn't have an attorney lined up and the judge, Gloria Chevere, berated him.<br> <br> She scheduled a hearing for a week later and said if he doesn't have a private attorney by then, she's going to take the thousand dollars he posted for bond, and she's going to give it to the first lawyer who happens to be in court that day and that will be his attorney.<br> <br> Meechie and his mom leave angry and silent, walking 20 feet apart.<br> <br> MEECHIE: I don't even want to talk about it.<br> <br> With the hearing done, Meechie is supposed to go back to the jail for the day reporting program, but his mom has had it.…she just drives him back home along with his co-defendant who also had to be in court that day.<br> <br> She drops them both off at a corner in the neighborhood, the same streets where they were arrested.<br> <br> Later at home, tired and seeming depressed, she eats a small pizza off of a paper plate and won't talk about the case.<br> <br> SHAPREE: I ain't fenna answer no questions because I don't feel like it.<br> <br> She says there's no more she can do for her son.<br> <br> Meechie's grandmother Josie is willing to talk but it seems like she too has given up.<br> <br> She's laying on the coach watching One Oh Six and park on B-E-T with two of Meechie's younger siblings.<br> <br> SOT<br> <br> She's able to provide housing for a couple of her adult children and their children.<br> <br> But her job working on case files for cancer patients who have died is depressing and the ride to work is an hour and a half on the bus each way.<br> <br> JOSIE: I'm tired.&nbsp; Disgusted.&nbsp; This is my building, I wanted to move from around here so maybe he would have a better chance in life but I can't afford to move.<br> <br> Josie says she's told the family they shouldn't call her at work anymore when Meechie is in trouble.<br> <br> JOSIE: Long as I don't know what he doing now, it don't bother me too much because I just can't take it no more.&nbsp; I don't want to see him in jail cause he's not in juvie no more, this will be the county.<br> <br> The thing about Meechie's story and his family's inability to help him, it's a very common.<br> <br> In reporting on juvenile justice I've met a number of moms who gave up on their kids, and it's usually for good reason.<br> <br> With limited time and energy, some choose to focus on the younger kids because maybe they can still be saved.<br> <br> Others have no choice because of health problems.<br> <br> I've talked to moms who are under doctor's orders to avoid stress which means avoiding their kids and their kid's problems.<br> <br> But even moms who haven't given up, they still have a hard time getting help for their kids.<br> <br> Tune in tomorrow as we hear about one mother's often frustrated efforts to get her son more support than the monthly five minute visit from a parole officer that he's getting now.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families How Illinois Spending on Juvenile Justice Compares to Other States http://www.wbez.org/blog/how-illinois-spending-juvenile-justice-compares-other-states <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//inside_out_06.jpg"><img height="332" width="499" class="size-full wp-image-18144" title="inside_out_06" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//inside_out_06.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">For the past few months we've been talking about Illinois' Department of Juvenile Justice as part of our series <em><a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/">Inside and Out</a></em>.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">We've tracked down <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/marcus-run">kids with warrants out for their arrest</a>, spent the day <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/juvenile-probation-day-front-lines">with a probation officer</a>, examined <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/illinois-youth-prisons-see-more-suicide-attempts">suicide attempts among incarcerated youth</a> and <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/line-day-st-charles-youth-prison">reported from inside one of Illinois' eight youth prisons</a>. One thing we haven't done yet is to compare Illinois with other states to see how our juvenile justice system stacks up.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Illinois spends an average of $233 per day to incarcerate a single youth. That's more than $85,000 per year per child.</p><p style="text-align: left;">That number is one thing.&sbquo;&nbsp; Turns out--comparing it in an apples to apples way is quite another. <!--break-->We've hesitated to measure this number against other states because each state has its own system for dealing with kids in trouble with the law. And the differences between states' systems can be pretty significant.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Lisa Jacobs, director of Illinois' Models for Change Initiative, says that Ohio's system of juvenile justice comes closest to Illinois'.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Both states had slightly more than 1,400 kids in their prisons in 2009. And in both states counties are responsible for short-term detention while the state is responsible for longer-term incarceration.</p><p style="text-align: left;">But Ohio spends $334 per youth per day - $100 a day more than Illinois - to incarcerate its youth.</p><p style="text-align: left;">One major difference between the two states is that Ohio's Department of Youth Services settled a class action lawsuit in 2008. As part of the settlement, Ohio hired more guards at its six prisons. They've also closed two youth prisons in the past two years and will close a third next month.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Amy Swanson, director of Voices for Ohio's Children, says that it's a &quot;transformative time&quot; in the state. She said that Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, met his wife while they were working in juvenile facilities, and that he's been very supportive of the changes taking place in Ohio.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Indiana meanwhile spends about $173 per day per kid, which, I'm told, is way more than what they spend on adults in prison.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Washington State spent $258 per day for each of their 1,687 youths in custody in 2009. And Kansas has only 355 kids in its juvenile prisons but spends $239 per kid per day. Missouri is a model for many states because its focuses heavily on rehabilitating youths. In 2005, Missouri's &quot;Secure Care&quot; cost $156 per child per day while its community-based treatment cost $113 per child per day.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Numbers don't tell the whole story, by any means.&sbquo;&nbsp; But they're important to know as Illinois has another go at improving its justice system for young people.</p></p> Thu, 18 Mar 2010 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/how-illinois-spending-juvenile-justice-compares-other-states