Every year, hundreds of Illinois teenagers enter the juvenile justice system by engaging in risk taking or illegal behavior. The effect of the justice system's response on the lives of these youth can be negative and injurious, especially when incarceration is involved, and the cost to the State's taxpayers is enormous. With the passage of Redeploy Illinois in 2004, the Illinois General Assembly and the Executive Branch set Illinois on a new course of action to improve the juvenile justice system's handling of troublesome youth and meet the needs of these youth and their families.

In a few short years, Redeploy Illinois has emerged as a national model for juvenile justice system reform. The Redeploy Illinois model has been presented, by invitation, to juvenile justice system and policy leadership in several states, and as recently as November 2009 was featured in a multi-state juvenile justice reform symposium organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Redeploy Illinois initiative gives counties financial support to provide comprehensive services to delinquent youth in their home communities who might otherwise be sent to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ). Prior research provides solid evidence that community-based services for delinquent youth are more effective and less expensive than a sentence to secure confinement for a certain profile of youth offenders who are deemed likely to benefit from such services, since the cost of community-based programs is lower than the cost of incarceration. Unfortunately, many counties in Illinois lack the necessary programs and services to effectively serve delinquent youth locally while maintaining public safety. This lack of local programs and services often plays a significant role in the Court's decision to commit a youth to IDJJ. The funds provided to the Redeploy Illinois pilot sites help to fill gaps in the continuum of programs and services locally available for delinquent youth and their families, allowing local authorities to cost-effectively serve youth locally and reduce their reliance on IDJJ.

To date, nine Redeploy Illinois programs have served youth in over 20 counties. The first Redeploy Illinois pilot sites in the 2nd Judicial Circuit, Macon County, Peoria County and St. Clair County began their work in 2005, and they continue to successfully prevent the incarceration of hundreds of Illinois youth. Drawing from the successful pilot programs, the Phase II Redeploy Illinois programs in the 4th Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Lee County, McLean County, and Madison County began delivering services to youth and families in Fiscal Year 2009. The implementation studies completed in each of these program sites provide assurance of strong prospects for success.

The Redeploy Illinois sites provide a range of assessment, treatment, and follow-up services that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Aggression Replacement Training (ART)
  • Cognitive education and treatment
  • Community restorative boards
  • Employment-related services
  • Gender-specific services
  • Global positioning system monitoring
  • Home detention
  • Housing
  • Individualized staffing and case management plans
  • Mental health treatment
  • Multidisciplinary case review meetings
  • Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST)
  • Parent/family support services
  • Positive recreational and mentoring services
  • Psychological and psychiatric evaluation
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Teen court
  • Tele-psychiatry
  • Transportation
  • Tutoring and educational advocacy
  • Victim-related services
  • Washington Aggression Interruption Training (WAIT).

The Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board studies trends in utilization of IDJJ by Redeploy Illinois counties, as well as trends in utilization of local detention, as a means of monitoring program implementation and system impact.

Table 1 below summarizes overall trends in total Redeploy eligible commitments (excludes murder and class X forcible felonies) to IDJJ for youth adjudicated as delinquent in the Redeploy Illinois pilot sites for calendar years 2001 through 2007, covering a time period before and after enactment of the Redeploy Illinois legislation. Table 1further breaks down those commitments by court evaluation commitments (youth sent to IDJJ for temporary periods of time under 'bring back' orders) and court evaluation returns (return of youth to IDJJ following a temporary commitment--for example, when a youth does not display an appropriate 'adjustment' to incarceration). During this time, total Redeploy eligible commitments to IDJJ (and the former Illinois Department of Corrections Juvenile Division) in the four Redeploy Illinois pilot sites decreased by 55 percent, from 212 in 2004 to 96 in 2007.

From 2001 to 2004, court evaluation commitments increased 60 percent from 72 in 2001 to 115 in 2004. Since that time, court evaluation commitments, the primary target for reduction by the Redeploy Illinois legislation, decreased by 94 percent, from 115 in 2004 to seven in 2007. These data suggest that the Redeploy Illinois initiative has been successful in reducing the number of temporary court evaluation commitments in the pilot counties. Table 1 further shows that court evaluation returns (return of youth to IDJJ following a temporary commitment--for example, when a youth does not display an appropriate 'adjustment' to incarceration) also reduced significantly in the four Redeploy Illinois pilot sites, demonstrating a 91 percent reduction.

Table 1
Number of Commitments to IDJJ by Redeploy Illinois Pilot Sites
Calendar Year 2001 to 2007

Calendar Year % change
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 01-04 04-07
Redeploy Eligible Commitments 167 218 230 212 175 127 96 +27% -55%
Court Evaluations 27 108 133 115 62 13 7 +60% -94%
Court Evaluation Returns 36 41 40 35 27 16 3 -3% -91%

Figure 1 below summarizes the extent to which the four Redeploy Illinois pilot sites have utilized local juvenile detention from 2001 to 2007. This information is important, because it monitors whether the pilot sites replace state incarceration (e.g., in IDJJ) with local incarceration (e.g., in a local juvenile detention center). With the exception of one increase in utilization of local detention by St. Clair County in 2006, the Redeploy Illinois pilot sites did not show an overall increase in the number of local detention days following the implementation of Redeploy Illinois. Peoria and St. Clair counties showed decreases in the use of local detention from 2004 to 2007, while the 2nd Circuit and Macon County show no change, although Macon County experienced a slight increase from 2005 to 2006.

Figure 1

Number of Admissions to Local Detention
by Redeploy Illinois Pilot Sites,
CY01 - CY07

Figure 1: Admissions to Local Detention by Pilot Sites, CY01 - CY07

* Black vertical line denotes beginning of Redeploy Illinois program.

2000 *2001 *2002 *2003 *2004 *2005 *2006 2007
Macon 495 325 225 195 175 180 190 167
Peoria 631 725 800 815 885 850 800 769
St. Clair 781 880 815 750 700 615 780 604
2nd Circuit 244 255 250 210 290 320 320 313
** The numbers shown on columns 2001-2006 are estimates based upon the chart.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Redeploy Illinois continues to improve the Illinois juvenile justice system and provide a more cost effective option than youth incarceration while maintaining public safety. The four initial pilot sites continue to operate effective community-based treatment and intervention programs and maintain reductions in the use of youth incarceration. Redeploy Illinois program evaluation evidence and statistical evidence supports this conclusion. The Phase II Redeploy Illinois sites have successfully implemented new, innovative approaches to the local challenges they face regarding juvenile delinquency. The Phase II sites, according to evidence from the implementation studies, are programmatically sound and operating in accordance with legislative intent and local program goals and objectives.

Redeploy Illinois has significantly improved the lives of children and families in Illinois since its inception in 2005. It has improved the treatment and rehabilitation of delinquent youth; it has removed the once popular fiscal incentive to send youth to state correctional facilities; it has strengthened local capacities to assess and manage delinquent youth; and it has improved the range of alternatives available for communities to respond to delinquent behavior.

To remain successful, Redeploy Illinois must take several significant steps, and must continually adapt to changes in local and state-level conditions. The Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board recommends that the Department of Human Services (DHS or the Department) and Redeploy Illinois take the following steps to expand this successful program, and ensure its success in the immediate future as well as in the long term:

Recommendation #1:

Redeploy Illinois should increase its budget to provide for full statewide expansion of the initiative.

Recommendation #2:

Redeploy Illinois should conduct a policy analysis of Redeploy Illinois that includes three key components: 1) a cost-benefit analysis comparing the true costs of Redeploy Illinois to the true costs of youth incarceration and local detention; 2) a system-impact study to determine the justice system impacts of statewide implementation of Redeploy Illinois on the juvenile justice system; and 3) a recidivism study to determine the extent to which youth participating in Redeploy Illinois improve their competencies and behaviors and cease to be a burden to taxpayers, compared to recidivism in other programs and approaches.1

Recommendation #3:

Redeploy Illinois should work with the local sites, IDJJ, and IDOC to improve the collection of data regarding program activities, administration and evaluation. Specifically, Redeploy Illinois should collect more complete quarterly report data from each local site, and should assess whether the current system is effective or burdensome for the sites. Statistical information regarding IDJJ commitments and releases of various types, and across such categories as gender, race/ethnicity, offense type, admission type, and release type, including former IDJJ or Redeploy Illinois youth committed to IDOC, should be routinely accessible to the Department from these agencies.

Recommendation #4:

The expansion of Redeploy Illinois should continue the practice of awarding planning grants prior to the development of Redeploy Program proposals by local sites. This would build upon existing sites' experience and help to foster program success in additional communities in Illinois.