State Program Helps Divert Young Offenders From Prison

New results show Redeploy Illinois proves community-based services for juvenile offenders are less costly and more effective than institutional care in correctional facilities

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) today announced three-year results of Redeploy Illinois, a four-site (15 county) pilot project to reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders. The project provides funding to counties for local agencies to deliver comprehensive services to youth who might otherwise have been sent to an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) youth center. State and local officials released an annual report on the project during a meeting at Children's Home + Aid in Granite City.

"Redeploy Illinois has clearly shown that community-based services for juvenile offenders are generally less costly and more effective than institutional care in correctional facilities," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "In its first three years of providing services Redeploy Illinois has successfully diverted almost 400 youth from commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice."

Joining Secretary Adams were The Honorable Judge Walter Brandon, St. Clair County; The Honorable Judge Duane L. Bailey, Madison County; and Renae Koller, Regional Vice President and Lynn Jarman, Program Director of Youth Services, Children's Home + Aid.

The Redeploy Illinois initiative provides counties the funding to develop comprehensive services that include therapy, GPS monitoring, substance abuse and mental health treatment, life skills education, transportation, parent and family support services, victim-related services and more.

According to the most recent available data on the IDJJ website, in Fiscal Year 2005, the per capita annual cost to the state to incarcerate a juvenile offender in a correctional institution was $70,827. Further, nearly half of all juveniles discharged from a juvenile prison in 2002 returned within three years.

In the first three years of implementation, the Redeploy Illinois pilot sites, on average, reduced commitments to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) by 51 percent within the pilot program communities, compared to the three year period prior to Redeploy implementation, or nearly 400 fewer youth.

The St. Clair County project alone reports a reduction of 153 fewer youth incarcerated during the three-year period. Had these youth been committed to IDJJ, the resulting cost could have been as much as $7.5 million.

According to the report, an analysis of site expenditures to the potential cost avoidance suggests that for every $1 spent by Redeploy Illinois sites, the State saves $4. Although cost is an important measure of success, especially for a government-supported program, it is secondary to the initiative's effect on the lives of troubled youth. The statistics presented in the report regarding decreased commitments and recidivism suggests that youth offenders are being diverted from further involvement in the juvenile justice system. Redeploy Illinois has been successful in mobilizing communities to direct resources to youth offenders who otherwise would have been detained or worse, incarcerated. With the advent of Redeploy Illinois, many more youth offenders now have the opportunity to thrive and become productive citizens.

Combined 3-Year IDJJ commitment reduction and cost avoidance estimates:

Pilot Site 3 Year Number Reduction from Baseline 3-Year Cost Avoidance
2nd Circuit 48 $2,351,725
Macon County 93 $4,567,652
Peoria County 88 $4,298,567
St. Clair County 153 $7,514,190
Totals 382 Fewer Youth Incarcerated $18,732,134

The analysis presented above is predicated on cost of incarceration as calculated by IDJJ. The cost figures are a per capita calculation; it is derived by dividing the entire budget of IDJJ by the number of youth incarcerated during Fiscal Year 2005. Because the per capita calculation includes fixed costs, the estimate may be inflated. Further, the choice of term, "cost avoidance" was intentional as actual savings were not realized by IDJJ.

"The reduction of youth and a gross savings of millions of tax payer dollars at four sites represent considerable potential for the Redeploy Illinois program and the State of Illinois if it is expanded to additional counties and circuits in Illinois," said Secretary Adams. "It is clear that this program has the potential to save the State of Illinois significant dollars that would otherwise be spent on incarcerating non-violent juvenile offenders."

Members of the Redeploy Illinois Board in St. Clair County include: The Honorable Judge Walter Brandon, Associate Judge, St. Clair County; Renae Koller, LCPC, Regional Vice President and Lynn Jarman, MS, Program Director of Youth Services at Children's Home +Aid; Dana Rosenzweig, Executive Director, and Debbie Humphrey, Program Director of the St. Clair County Mental Health Board; and Mike Buettner, Director of St. Clair County Probation/Court Services.

Children's Home + Aid has been involved in the project since 2005. The project has been remarkably successful, reducing the average commitments from 86 in 2004 to only 11 commitments last fiscal year. Children's Home + Aid is implementing a similar program in Madison County. Renae Koller, Regional Vice President for Children's Home + Aid stated: "As the lead agency for the Redeploy Illinois Program, we at Children's Home + Aid are proud to be involved in such a valuable partnership between the IL Department of Human Services, Probation and Courts in St. Clair and Madison County, the St. Clair County Mental Health Board and other private agencies to help keep kids safely in their communities. If we can help to save the state millions of dollars and reduce juvenile crime, while teaching youth to be productive community members, everyone wins!"

In St. Clair County, the St. Clair County Youth Coalition (SCCYC) consisting of more than 100 community stakeholders and youth service providers oversees the initiative. The St. Clair County Mental Health Board is the Redeploy Illinois grantee. As the lead agency, Children's Home + Aid provides program delivery and implementation of the project. Other agencies such as the Lessie Bates Neighborhood House, Kids Hope United, and Cahokia Park Methodist Church offer services to the youth.

The St. Clair County project works with youth age 13 to 17 who have at least one prior delinquent offense and a current offense punishable by IDJJ commitment.

The Department currently funds 9 Redeploy Illinois program sites. The original four pilot sites are: 2nd Judicial Circuit (all 12 counties), Macon County, Peoria County and St. Clair County. The five new sites funded in 2009 are Kankakee, Lee, Madison, McLean and the 4th Judicial Circuit (Montgomery, Christian and Marion Counties).