Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
ANNUAL REPORT TO THE
GOVERNOR AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY
for Calendar Years 2007 and 2008

February 10, 2009


Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO)

No minor accused of an act which would not be criminal if committed by an adult may be securely detained in a jail, lockup or juvenile detention center. Examples of status offenses are truancy, running away, underage drinking, ungovernable and non-offenders (those youth who come under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court because they are abused, neglected or dependent). Each state is permitted a limited number of times which the prohibition may be broken and still be considered to be in compliance with the requirement (the de minimus number).

Status of Compliance

  • In calendar years 2006 and 2007, Illinois was in compliance with the DSO core requirement: Illinois reports that it had no DSO violations in jail or lockup facilities either year. Illinois is on track to be in compliance in 2008.
  • In 2006, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 51. In 2006, 13 counties out of 17 with juvenile detention centers accounted for all 51 violations. Illinois' de minimus figure for compliance in 2006 was 188 violations.
  • In 2007, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 57. Ten counties out of 17 with juvenile detention centers accounted for all 57 violations. Illinois' de minimus figure for compliance in 2007 was 188 violations.
  • In the first nine months of calendar year 2008, violations in juvenile detention centers totaled 44. During this period there have been no DSO violations in county jails or municipal lockups.

IJJC Action and Recommendations

Action

  • The Commission provided funding to the Illinois Juvenile Detention Alternatives Partners group to develop appropriate alternatives for youth within their communities. (See Detention Alternatives, this document).
  • The Commission and its contractors provide technical assistance for facilities that house status offenders to encourage better practice and keep Illinois in compliance.

Recommendations

  • Legislation is required to ensure that juveniles are never securely detained when the sole underlying offense is a status offense.
  • Short of legislation, the Commission recommends that county detention centers be discouraged from housing status offenders. The AOIC should be directed to reduce the amount of funding they provide to detention centers that hold status offenders.
  • The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and IDHS must be charged with developing and implementing a plan to ensure that abused and neglected youth are placed in a proper setting and provided necessary services rather than placing them in secure detention. In calendar year 2006, 13 non-offenders who were DCFS wards were held in secure detention centers for a total of 521 days. In 2007, 20 non-offenders were held in secure detention centers for a total of 500 days2.

2 JMIS, 2008