The Current Juvenile Justice Case Management System Is Inadequate for Tracking Youth, Case Planning, and Monitoring System Outcomes

A functional case management system is essential to the General Assembly's requirement that it receive quarterly reports on youth released from DJJ and to the actualization of the Commission's recommendations for juvenile reentry reform. A strong case management system is a cornerstone of effective release planning, aftercare, and system transparency and accountability. Such a system would support the activities performed by facility staff as well as aftercare specialists, facilitating information transfer and service provision to reduce recidivism and promote sustained pro-social youth behavior. Currently, the Department of Juvenile Justice has no practicable case management system. The two existing structures consist of the Juvenile Tracking System ("JTS") and the Automated Management System ("AMS"). These two systems have several major flaws:

  • JTS uses an antiquated format and neither system is conducive to generating reports and analyses;
  • JTS and AMS do not communicate with each other in a way that facilitates continuity of case planning or service provision;
  • Neither system captures the type of information needed for case planning and service provision; and
  • Neither system adequately differentiates between system users in different "roles" who may use the systems for different functions.

The following sections describe the two primary components of the existing system, as well as the key junctures at which information should be shared between users.

Current IT Systems: JTS and AMS

JTS. DJJ relies entirely on JTS for in-facility youth information tracking. JTS is a database developed in the 1980s - written in COBOL and using the antiquated black screen/green type cursor format - that permits only limited data field and input types. JTS does not and cannot facilitate meaningful youth case planning or substantive release decisions. JTS does not centralize any information on youth educational history, assessments, treatment progress, family history, employment history, or release planning. JTS does not differentiate information access based on an employee's responsibility at DJJ (e.g. mental health counselors do not access different JTS information than DJJ line staff). Data extracted from JTS is not easily used for analyses and reporting by researchers or consultants because of its antiquated format.

DJJ staff and external partners agree that JTS is outdated and difficult to use. JTS cannot easily or cost-effectively be upgraded or modified to permit the kind of functions necessary for individual youth case planning or aggregate level policy and resource decisions.

Consequently, the Commission recommends that the functionality represented by JTS (e.g. tracking of juveniles while they are within the juvenile justice system) be incorporated in the development of a case management system.

AMS. Once a youth is released on parole, individual youth information is tracked by AMS - a system managed by a Department of Corrections Parole Division subcontractor. AMS serves exclusively as a tracking system, developed to track adults on parole. JTS downloads minimal information (e.g. host site and commitment offense information) into AMS. None of the information accumulated by DJJ during a youth's incarceration, including mental health treatment, substance abuse programming, or education, is transmitted to parole agents. As a stopgap measure, DJJ has extended access to AMS capabilities to the new Aftercare Specialists; however, their responsibilities require a continuity of case planning from initial incarceration through discharge from parole which is functionally impossible using AMS.

Opportunities for Information Gathering and Data Transfer

Reception & Classification

When a youth arrives at Reception & Classification ("R&C"), the R&C administrator creates a master file and enters the youth into JTS.F156 The master file is DJJ's only comprehensive record of a youth and is available only in one paper copy.F157 Depending on the volume of information provided by the committing county or amassed by DJJ, as well as the youth's length of stay and history, a master file can be relatively small, or it can be very large, measuring a foot or more thick. These master files are maintained for years in crowded storage areas, as DJJ does not have the resources to convert them to any other format. If a file is damaged in storage, its information is lost permanently.

Statutorily, the committing county is required to send information on the youth to DJJ through the court clerk, but the quality and quantity of the information provided varies wildly between counties and is often incomplete. Any relevant information provided by the committing county is added to the master file. Typically, DJJ receives four pieces of information from the court clerk: a social history,F158 the commitment order,F159 medication information, and detention reports.F160 Information provided by the court clerk is primarily recorded in the youth's master file, not JTS.

At Reception & Classification, DJJ enters demographic and basic "census" data into JTS, including: home address, commitment offense, date of birth, gender, race, case history, court orders, parole violations, and arrests.

At R&C, DJJ also develops a summary/workup to assist the transfer Coordinator in making facility placement decisions; it is documented on a paper form and is not entered into JTS.F161 The summary/workup does not include any information on a youth's educational background, probation history, or DCFS involvement.

Facility Placement

Based on R&C's summary/workup, the transfer coordinators assign each youth to an IYC facility. Youth are placed in one of DJJ's eight secure facilities, which are currently the only DJJ placement options available. The transfer coordinator sends the youth's master file along with the youth as he or she is transported to the placement facility. At this juncture, the master file may include JTS generated documents (e.g. demographic information, etc.), Social History, intake form, and the court order. Currently, R&C does not generate a substantive case plan for the youth's incarceration and reentry.

Once a youth has been transferred to a facility, DJJ school staff should determine which schools the youth has attended and contact the schools by phone to request the youth's educational information. School record collection is onerous and time consuming due to teachers' limited internet access. Some school districts mail or fax the youth's transcripts to the facility; school record receipt is slow if conducted via mail and difficult if lengthy records are faxed. Some school districts do not respond to the records request.

IYC counselors at the receiving facility are responsible for updating the master file with information accumulated during the youth's incarceration. The master file may (but does not always) include: mental health assessments (contained in the supplementary medical file), disciplinary tickets, substance abuse treatment records, school records, and the monthly Integrated Service Plan ("ISP").

Host Site Approval

After DJJ determines that it will present a youth to the Prisoner Review Board in the near future, cursory "host site" information is entered in JTS and transmitted electronically to the Parole Division for investigation by a parole agent. A parole officer investigates the youth's potential host site and uses the minimal information available in JTS to assess the appropriateness of a youth's placement according to adult parole placement standards. The investigating parole agent is not provided a history of the youth's past successes or challenges at host placements, including family history.

If DJJ identifies a youth as "ready for release" but the youth is deemed "not able to return home," the youth's DJJ counselor provides information on the youth's placement needs to the Placement Resource Unit ("PRU"). While the timing and exact process varies by facility, in general it involves an exchange of telephone calls and paper reports.

Use of Records/Documents by the PRB

The Prisoner Review Board receives a youth's master file and DJJ summary of the youth's incarceration on the day of the PRB hearing, frequently as the youth is sitting down for the hearing. The master file may include any previous PRB orders, the parole plan, the youth's disciplinary card, and any objection letter from the State's Attorney.

Youth Release

When a youth is ordered to be paroled, the DOC Parole Division receives a copy of the standard paper parole order entered by the PRB. The Parole Division also receives access to that youth's JTS entries. The overwhelming majority of information accumulated in a youth's master file is not transferred to the Parole Division, as it exists only on paper and was never entered into the database.

Typically, DJJ does not provide documentation of any work completed or school credits earned when youth leave an IYC facility, thus hampering a youth's ability to re-enroll in school, enroll in vocational programs, or secure employment.

Once a youth is on parole, the Parole Division uses AMS, not JTS, to manage information on youth. In some ways, the AMS system is more sophisticated and user-friendly than JTS; however, AMS is focused on surveillance and tracking functions rather than case planning or service provision. AMS does not feed parole information into JTS, nor does JTS feed information into AMS.F162

Parole Revocation Hearing

If a youth is presented to the PRB for an alleged parole violation, the PRB receives the youth's master file and a parole violation form. The parole violation form consists primarily of the parole officer's summary of the alleged violation. The PRB does not receive the AMS parole history, so the PRB has no record of the parole agent's interactions with a youth and cannot determine whether there were efforts to engage that youth or his family, or requests by the youth or family for assistance or support.F163

If a youth is re-incarcerated, the youth's master file and JTS entry are typically updated to reflect the parole violation and/or new charge.

Commission Findings Regarding the Current Inadequacies of the Juvenile Tracking and Case Management System

Based on the Commission's research on the current DJJ tracking and case management system, the Commission finds:

  • DJJ receives inadequate, incomplete, and sometimes outdated or unreliable information on the youth committed to their care;
  • DJJ has very limited capacity to seek, acquire, or receive additional information regarding youth needs and strengths, family needs and strengths, etc.;
  • DJJ's IT systems (JTS and paper master file system) undermine staff ability to enter, share, or use critical information about the youth in their care. This limits DJJ's ability to make good decisions regarding immediate (crisis) needs, facility placement, and longer-term case planning with youth;
  • DJJ and the Parole Division cannot adequately share and use information to appropriately identify and arrange placement and/or services for youth about to be released;
  • The PRB is not making informed, objective decisions regarding a youth's readiness for release, given the limited information currently used at hearings;
  • Parole and Aftercare Specialists do not develop, apply, share, or adjust individualized plans to keep youth safely in their communities;
  • The PRB is not making informed decisions at revocation hearings - which involve the fundamental decision of whether to reincarcerate a youth or to develop community-based strategies to keep the youth safely in his community; and
  • Neither DJJ nor external stakeholders can currently obtain adequate information from DJJ and related data systems - nor link these data systems to other data sources such as public health, education, and law enforcement - to adequately evaluate the short or long-term outcomes DJJ, DOC (Parole), or the PRB achieve with public resources.

Commission Recommendations for Case Management System Goals, Functions, Users, and Outcome Measures

Given the Commission's research and findings on the current failings of the state's data and case tracking systems and the need for a case management data system to ensure a viable rehabilitative juvenile justice system, the Commission recommends the development and implementation of a centralized case management IT system.

Case Management System Goals

  • Develop accurate, centralized youth profiles that can be aggregated for system-level planning;
  • Plan for and monitor appropriate treatment and services for youth during and after incarceration;
  • Follow youth clinical progress as assessed using ongoing assessment tools during incarceration and supervised release;
  • Facilitate data-driven release decisions informed by evidence-based assessments;
  • Monitor educational progress and the appropriateness of education received;
  • Promote common language for use by line staff, security staff, counselors, educators, Aftercare Specialists, etc.; and
  • Provide quarterly reports on youth housed in and released from DJJ facilities, including:
    • Assessed risks, strengths, and needs of youth in DJJ care, pre-release services recommended, planned for, and received,
    • Crisis care provided (including medical and mental health services),
    • Use of discipline and sanctions in facilities,
    • Length of stay prior to release,
    • Recommended and actual length of monitoring post-release,
    • Violations of release conditions,
    • Length of release prior to violation,
    • Nature of violations,
    • Use of graduated sanctions and incentives, and
    • Outcomes attained by youth in DJJ care or supervision.

Case Management System Functions

An effective case management system must be accessible to system actors in a variety of capacities. At login, the system must present each user with the case information that individual has permission to view and the functions that are specific to the user's role in the system. These functions will include, but not be limited to, the data entry of assessment tools, the entry and monitoring of educational records and assessments, vocational training and employment history, incident reporting during facility stays, planning for services, and tracking receipt of services.

Administrative staff should be able to access a variety of reports that address monitoring needs by facility, unit, region, and for the system as a whole. These reports will include longitudinal information on individual youth as well as aggregated information reflecting the progress of subgroups within the population of youth. Managers must also have access to both individual and aggregate information regarding youth comprising caseloads of the individual staff they supervise.

The development of the system should incorporate input from all potential system users within and outside the facilities, as well as from external partners who use data to assess system performance and youth outcomes.

Overall, the case management system described here should facilitate the measurement of youth progress as well as system benchmarks. Benchmarks and outcomes may include youth-specific measures such as educational attainment or clinical improvement, "recidivism-related" outcomes such as new offenses, reincarceration or parole violations, or system performance such as an increase in the provision of services, the delivery of services, or the successful delivery of educational or vocational training. System actors must access and share this information as part of a structured process of data-driving decision-making, system monitoring and performance improvement.

Outcome Measures

The Commission has devoted considerable time and thought to the most appropriate and illuminative measures of the success of individual youth released from DJJ custody and the performance of the system as a whole. There are a number of detailed and exhaustive measures which DJJ and its partners should employ to gauge the needs and progress of individual youth, the performance of individual staff, and the efficacy of the Department and its aftercare partners and providers. However, for purposes of this study and the overall improvement of the state's aftercare system, the Commission recommends a series of "headline measures" that focus on fundamental youth, community, and fiscal outcomes, including:

  • Reincarceration rates (including parole violations, new offenses and/or technical violations);
  • Community safety (including rates and reasons for new arrests of youth on parole);
  • Youth opportunities (including educational, vocational and employment progress and outcomes);
  • Youth functioning (including stable housing, behavioral health status, and community connection and supports); and
  • Fiscal implications (including the costs of and investment in key policies, practices, programs, and services).

The Commission further recommends that this data be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, geographic origin of the youth, offense types and histories, and by geographic occurrence of committing offenses. The Commission strongly recommends that this data be reported publicly on a semi-annual basis.


Footers

  1. IYC-St. Charles, IYC-Harrisburg, and IYC-Warrenville serve as the three DJJ Reception & Classification Centers.
    Return to reference 156.
  2. See Appendix D for the list of documents included in a master file.
    Return to reference 157.
  3. 705 ILCS 405/5-701 requires a social investigation prior to sentencing and outlines the information to be included in a social history.
    Return to reference 158.
  4. 705 ILCS 405/5-750(5)(a-d) requires the court clerk to forward the disposition, all reports, the court's statement of the basis for ordering the disposition, and all additional matters which the court directs the clerk to transmit.
    Return to reference 159.
  5. Medication information and detention reports are often sent to DJJ but are not statutorily required.
    Return to reference 160.
  6. The summary/workup may include some, but rarely all, of the following pieces of information: JTS Youth Face Sheet, JYS Youth Data Summary, Parole Violation Report and Warrant if applicable, Commitment Order, R&C Intake Assessment, Social History, Suicide Probability Scale, Mental Health Intake Screening Form, Psychiatric Evaluation if applicable, V-DISC Clinical Diagnostic Report, JAIS Report, Medical Clearance From, Bunk Issues Criteria Form, and JTS Initial Classification Report.
    Return to reference 161.
  7. The data systems themselves are capable of linkage. Currently, JTS downloads commitment offense information, some demographic information, and host site information.
    Return to reference 162.
  8. The PRB has the authority to request AMS parole history. All PRB members have been assigned parole agent numbers and provided a 1-800 number to submit their requests.
    Return to reference 163.