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 needed social services to delinquent youth in their home communities who might otherwise be sent to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ - formerly the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, IDOC). Prior research provides solid evidence that community-based services for delinquent youth are more effective than a sentence to secure confinement for a certain profile of youth offenders who are deemed likely to benefit from such services. In addition, community-based programs cost less than secure 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.

Redeploy Illinois builds on the successful work done in other states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania that have reduced juvenile incarceration rates through similarly structured efforts, and it is paying off. Redeploy Illinois successfully treats youth in their own communities and keeps them from expensive IDJJ incarceration.

Although research suggests that community-based assessment and treatment services are less costly than incarceration, the sentencing county must cover the cost of those services. On the other hand, if a county sends a youth to IDJJ, the State assumes the financial burden for the services. This creates an inappropriate fiscal incentive for counties to commit youth to IDJJ for assessment, treatment, and supervision in order to avoid spending local resources for those same services, especially when those services do not exist locally, or are not adequate to meet the demand.

In 2004, the Illinois General Assembly established the Redeploy Illinois pilot program in state statute (730 ILCS 110/16.1) as a mechanism to change this fiscal incentive to send juveniles to IDJJ. Research demonstrates that non-violent youth are less likely to become further involved in delinquent or criminal behavior if they remain in their home communities and receive appropriate services that address underlying needs such as mental illness, substance abuse, learning disabilities, poor decision making, unstable living arrangements, and poor parenting. Additionally, research on balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) has shown that offenders who participate in BARJ programming have a greater Redeploy Illinois Annual Report - January 2010 Page 10 appreciation of the harm their actions caused their victims and communities, that working to repair the harm is therapeutic and promotes positive behavior change, and that victims express satisfaction with the justice system.

According to the Redeploy Illinois legislation, local jurisdictions that participate as Redeploy Illinois sites must develop plans for community-based treatment for juvenile offenders that protect their communities, promote accountability for the harm caused to their victims and communities, and equip youth with the necessary competencies to live responsibly and productively.

Redeploy Illinois began in 2004 with four pilot sites:

  • 2nd Judicial Circuit
  • Macon County
  • Peoria County
  • St. Clair County.

In 2008, five new jurisdictions became Redeploy Illinois sites2, following a concerted outreach and planning effort coordinated by the Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board and staff:

  • 4th Judicial Circuit
  • Kankakee County
  • Lee County
  • McLean County
  • Madison County.

The Redeploy Illinois Program Sites3