Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
for Calendar Years 2007 and 2008

February 10, 2009


The state of Illinois remains in compliance with the core requirements of the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP Act). These requirements are Disproportionate Minority Contact, Separation of Adult and Juvenile Offenders, Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders, and Jail Removal. The following summarizes the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission's recommendations to insure and strengthen continued compliance and consistent improvements to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs and services.

Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)

  • Collecting accurate data on race and ethnicity is necessary to provide a better understanding of the problem of disproportionate minority contact in Illinois. The Illinois State Police must be required to revise the arrest fingerprint card, and any related systems, to allow for the collection of ethnicity data.
  • Financial resources should be directed to counties and communities with high rates of DMC. These funds should be directed through existing initiatives such as DMC, JDAI and Redeploy Illinois. Funds should be used to impact the fundamental fairness of the system, to study the extent of the issue, develop and implement strategies to address DMC and to develop and expand alternatives to secure confinement.
  • The General Assembly should explore the possibility of further expanding automatic transfer reform. A study of the consequences of PA 94-0574 conducted by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Initiative and published as Changing the Course: A Review of the First Two Years of Drug Transfer Reform in Illinois (June 2008), found that in the two years following the Drug Transfer Reform, the number of youth automatically tried as adults was reduced by more than two-thirds. Further, nearly all (98%) of those affected by this change were youth of color (87% African American and 11% Hispanic).

Separation of Adult and Juvenile Offenders

  • Facilities should be discouraged from housing both juveniles and adults as it is difficult to ensure staff are properly trained to deal with both populations and generally requires separate staff for juveniles and adults which becomes costly for the facility.

Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO)

  • 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 days6.

Jail Removal

  • The General Assembly should revise the Illinois Juvenile Court Act to bring it into compliance with the federal JJDP Act with regard to the length of time a juvenile may be securely held in an adult county jail or municipal lock-up. Current state law allows youth to be held for 12 hours, and up to 24 hours in certain circumstances, conflicting with the federal 6 hour mandate.
  • In addition to recommendations regarding the federal JJDP Act requirements, the Commission offers many others for the purpose of improving Illinois' juvenile justice system. The recommendations are as follows.


  • The Illinois State Police should revise the arrest fingerprint card, and any related systems, to allow for the collection of ethnicity data.
  • Current law should be amended to discontinue the reporting and collection of arrest data for minors age 10 and over who have committed an offense that would be a class A or B misdemeanor if committed by an adult as well as station adjustments for misdemeanor offenses.
  • The AOIC should collect and report detailed transfer data.
  • The AOIC should institute quality control measures for eJMIS reporting.
  • Juvenile justice practitioners, including members of state and local law enforcement, juvenile courts, probation departments, and correctional agencies should follow the Guidelines for Collecting and Recording the Race and Ethnicity of Youth in Illinois' Juvenile Justice System.
  • The Commission recommends a study of the feasibility of implementing the JWATCH system state wide.


  • Enact legislation that would prevent a youth from waiving their right to counsel or from appearing at any hearing (even the first appearance) without the presence of an attorney.
  • Enact legislation that would allow a youth to invoke the right to counsel, even if this right had been previously waived.
  • The General Assembly should direct funding to the newly created Juvenile Defender Resource Center and Juvenile Justice Resource Center.


  • The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts should develop and implement a standardized state-wide Detention Screening Instrument.
  • Incentives should be instituted to discourage the use of secure detention and encourage community-based services for at-risk youth.


  • The Governor and General Assembly must increase funding for the Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services system at IDHS. This system is mandated by statute and has received relatively flat funding for more than a decade. As the number of youth in need of services increases, coupled with the increasing severity of those needs, the system struggles to provide sufficient services to those youth identified as in an "immediate crisis". The lack of resources creates a cycle in which many youth are showing up in the juvenile justice system because needs are going unidentified and untreated in the youth services system.
  • Direct funding to community-based youth services providers to build and maintain the capacity to deliver evidence-based mental health treatment interventions such as MST and FFT as well as trauma-focused treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, and Parent/Child Interaction Therapy.


  • 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.

6 JMIS, 2008