Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
for Calendar Years 2007 and 2008

February 10, 2009


The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) replaced the Juvenile Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections on July 1, 2006. The mission of the new department is to treat juvenile offenders in an age-appropriate manner, provide rehabilitative treatment, hold youth accountable for their actions, and equip them with competencies to become productive members of society.

The legislation creating the IDJJ passed with an assurance that the new department would be revenue-neutral in its creation. However, years of reduced budgets, hiring freezes, and loss of positions to the adult system handicapped the new department at inception. All operations of the department were affected including incarceration, after-care, education and administration. At the time of the transition and presently, IDJJ's incarcerated population is 150 percent of design capacity, necessitating housing half of the population in double-bunked rooms, an unsafe practice that is at odds with nationally recognized standards. In 1999, the Juvenile Division had a professional aftercare staff of 145 people and regional contracts for placement, transition and day reporting services. By 2006, that staffing had decreased to 13 adult division parole agents in Cook County. Downstate, youth were supervised by "adult" parole agents with shared juvenile case loads as high as 60 youth (National juvenile parole caseload standards are one to 24 and one to 12 for high-risk youth). Regarding the department's educational capacity, in 1999, there were 120 teachers funded through general revenue. As of 2007, the number had shrunk to 54 teachers with 44 vacancies. Cost cutting occurred at all institutional levels including reducing the number of Assistant Superintendents, direct care supervisory personnel, health care and mental health staff, maintenance, custodial, administrative and other critical positions. In some instances there was money to pay salaries but the department was unable to get permission from Office of Management and Budget to post and fill jobs. The consequences for programming, supervision, case management, and safety were reflected in reduced treatment activities, effectiveness and a rising numbers of incidents among the population.

Despite the handicap, IDJJ made significant progress. The number of disciplinary confinements was cut in half and the average time in confinement went from 8.83 days in 2006 to 3.26 days in March of 2008. The rules and regulations under which the Department operates were examined and modified to reflect the new mission of IDJJ. A comprehensive five-year master plan was completed. The plan addresses population projections, identifies evidence-based case management and treatment models and capital needs. Pilot programming of National Council on Crime and Delinquency's recommended Juvenile Assessment Intervention System screening, assessment, and case management system and preparations for adapting the evidence-based Washington State Integrated Treatment Model was put in place and is proceeding. A new job category of Juvenile Justice Specialist was created to replace the old youth supervisor; the first class of eleven new employees have been hired (the first replacement direct care staff to be hired in four years). A School Superintendent was hired in April of 2008, and a school board was appointed in the summer of 2008. Many of the teaching vacancies are filled as well as the principal positions. Further, a Special Education Coordinator was hired. The National Performance Based Standards monitoring system has been adopted and IDJJ has successfully completed its candidacy stage, fully implementing outcome reporting in all facilities by October of 2007. IDJJ sought and received a grant from IJJC to fund the development, promulgation, and enforcement of new detention standards for the 17 detention centers in Illinois and to assist the Department in selecting new training curriculums.

Much work remains to be done. Administratively, the department must implement training programs. Given the influx of new staff, the importance of training and retraining is significant. Strategically, the department must devise a plan for addressing the changing nature of the juvenile justice population. In 2008, over 150 older youth, many charged with very serious adult felonies, were transferred from Cook County Jail to IDJJ custody. These young men are disruptive to the juvenile facilities both because of their criminal attitudes and the fact that they must be transported to Cook County Court as frequently as every week. Finally, the State must continue to invest in the department's responsibility to provide care and treatment for committed youth and care after incarceration. Although the Governor initially included funds in the SFY 2009 budget for the creation of a statewide aftercare system, by the time of the passage of the final budget, those funds had been removed. All current aftercare functions continue to be performed throughout the state by Adult Parole Agents and do not incorporate evidence-based practices nor a continuum of youth and family interventions that reflect needed services and care.


  • The IJJC granted funds to IDJJ to support a Detention Center Monitor responsible for monitoring county juvenile detention centers and working with an advisory body to formulate and promulgate new detention standards.
  • In a companion grant, the IJJC awarded a grant to IDJJ to select and customize training curriculum for all staff.


  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to fully fund training for all new and existing staff.
  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to restore staffing to meet constitutional standards of care for youth that are incarcerated or under supervision.
  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to fully fund the development of a separate system of aftercare within IDJJ.
  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to pass legislation that would prohibit IDJJ from holding youth who are accused of committing felonies after their 18th birthday.
  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to empower the Prison Review Board to discharge a committed youth 17 years or older now being held on adult criminal felony charge(s) to a detainer or warrant.
  • The Governor and General Assembly must work together to embrace the objectives in the IDJJ Master Plan including multi-year capital appropriations to replace its aging, obsolete, and dangerous facilities and to modernize their infrastructure to meet contemporary housing, educational, treatment, and safety standards for children.