September 16, 2015 Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission (Retreat)


Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Members and Staff. The public is welcome to attend.


September 16, 2015
10:00am to 2:00pm


  • 2431 W. Roosevelt Road
    Chicago, IL 
  • Call In:888-494-4032 | Code: 5329547331#


  1. Call to Order
  2. Planning Discussion
    1. Community-based alternatives
    2. Compliance with Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
    3. Policy initiatives
  3. Adjournment


  1. Call to Order
    Retreat was called to order at 10:22am.
  2. Present: Chairman George Timberlake and Vice Chairman Lisa Jacobs. Commissioners: Julie Biehl, Rodney Ahitow, Jacqueline Bullard, Esther Franco-Payne, George Hill, Toni Irving, Patrick Nelson, Michael Rodriguez, Rick Velasquez and Dana Weiner. Guests: Pat Robertson, Susan Witkin, Chelsea Nixon, Brittany Blackwood, Rebecca Skorek. Staff: Julie Stremlau, Karima Douglas, Rob Vickery, Ron Smith, Dick Walsh and Jeff Bradley.
  3. Planning Discussion
    Chairman Timberlake noted this Retreat is a discussion of the IJJC's priorities and areas of interest. There will be no funding or programming decisions made at this meeting.
    Commissioner Velasquez began with his comments to re-energize the Commission and his JDAI Committee. He explained that JDAI began with a statewide initiative 8 years ago and there have been some road blocks. He stated that Jeff Bradley, the JDAI Coordinator and the JDAI Committee has accomplished quite a bit. The detention data report was a huge accomplishment. Through the work we realized that we need collaboration with AOIC and IPSCA to accomplish our goals. Jeff Bradley added that we had a focus on Domestic Battery and that the use of CCBYS as an alternative increased. He noted that funding will decrease in the CCBYS area and this is not good as the starting and stopping of these services doesn't help. It is critical to continue these services but the safety net is gone. He stated that the JDAI Committee has completed self assessments and attended national conferences. Chairman Timberlake added that we went through this after 2007 (Reduction of funding) and it is very difficult to come back from that.
    Commissioner and DMC Chairman Franco-Payne talked about DMC and the data gathering and community focus they have been working on. She stated we want to learn if we made an impact in our data gathering. The areas of focus for this DMC Committee continue to be public awareness, mental health issues and the school to prison pipeline. She added that there will be a forum held on Monday, September 21st. It was added that the Commission needs to invest in the DMC Reduction Strategies.
    1. Community-based alternatives
      Commissioner Hill stated that he believes the Commission has accomplished a lot over the years. The number of youth in juvenile detention has reduced over the last 20 years. Attitudes have changed and that is an accomplishment. Jeff Bradley added that you don't hear "why" we do this from agencies anymore, you hear, "how" can we get what we need. Executive Director Rob Vickery added that moving forward we have the challenge of relying on less funding to accomplish what needs to be done. Vice Chairman Jacobs agrees that the shift in attitude is great and how do we continue to keep kids out of the system. Commissioner Weiner believes that the data is a powerful tool to use. Commissioner Bullard added that there have been some culture changes but we need to get out in the communities and push those communities to live that. She believes local politicians in many communities know little about juvenile justice and there is room for additional education. Vice Chairman Jacobs also noted that the Commission needs to invest in the DMC reduction strategies. Chairman Timberlake added that forums are a ready-made chance to share information. DMC Chairman Franco-Payne also discussed the development of the DMC toolkit to use and share with best practices and overall information. It is tangible for others to use and implement. She noted there are some JDAI components in the toolkit. Commissioner Hill agrees we have heightened awareness but we have not solved the problem. Commissioner Bullard believes that lawyers have been successful about the adolescent development piece into the subject. She wants to know where we go from here, what do we need to do moving forward. How do we talk about DMC so that it is a part of every conversation? She stated that the reports are helpful as they are neutral. Commissioner and DMC Committee Chairman Franco-Payne added that the system knows the issues exist but chooses not to address them. We know that DMC exists but how do we combat the fact that people choose to ignore it as a problem. There seems to be no relationship from statewide to local. Vice Chairman Jacobs added that we have two things: data and community relationships. Rob Vickery stated that we have been giving data to the local counties and they seem surprised by the data. Commissioner Bullard believes they don't own the data. They want to blame the police or judges. If they don't own it they won't change it. JDAI and statewide data exists to address these issues. What are the disparities in detention and how to we address them? There is a conversation about racism and we must own it. Commissioner Biehl added that she has been involved in juvenile court since 1988 and she doesn't need any data telling her that Illinois is locking up youth of color at an alarming rate. It remains a huge issue. Commissioner Irving added that youth of color continue to be held and confined at much higher rates. Commissioner Franco-Payne noted that confinement is sometimes seen as the better option for the youth due to the lack of services that exist in communities. Vice Chairman Jacobs followed up with we need to review our action steps, increase our knowledge of DMC, find the themes that exist and address them. We need to use the data to teach and explain. She explained that every aspect of the IJJC has to do with DMC and we must address properly.
    2. Compliance with Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
      Since 2002 Illinois has been in compliance. For Deinstitutionalization of Status Offenders (DSO) we continue to do well and have reduced violations. On the topic of Jail Removal we have some issues and our violations have increased recently due to the law change for 17 year olds charged with felony offenses (Raise the Age). There is a discrepancy with federal and state law. In reference to DMC and the requirements we still don't collect all the 9 data points across the entire state as we have been instructed by OJJDP. OJJDP is revitalizing their policies/procedures etc. They are becoming more stringent, etc. It appears that the added scrutiny is facility focused. Illinois will continue to have issues with DMC data as we do not have a statewide system that collects and monitors the data. We do it county by county and we fall short. Chairman Timberlake added that we have tried to get others involved on this issue to change it and no one wants to spend the money or push the issue. We will continue to work toward maintaining compliance with all OJJDP rules and regulations. 
    3. Probation Review Project
      Peg Robertson explained the progress on the Probation Review Project, a partnership with DuPage County, Ogle County, and the Second Circuit. There is a Leadership Team, Focus Group with judges and state's attorney's, etc. Across these systems, there is a need for increased accountability.  There is an issue of determining what is going on and doing more than just having data that indicates how many youth come in and how many go out. It appears we can't train and believe the training impact would be sustained. There seems to be too many out there that don't have the knowledge they need to make any difference and don't understand the evidence based information. Commissioner Jacobs added that we learned a great deal from these site reviews. What can we do about probation and partners without offending anyone? There seems to be a lack of understanding of evidences based practices and otherwise. The group agreed there are many ways for probation to be delivered and not just officer reports, etc. Commissioner Ahitow added that we need to get to the youth before they are incarcerated and we must address why these kids are failing in the public schools.
    4. Policy Initiatives
      Vice Chairman Jacobs discussed the proposed new process for managing policy initiatives. There was a planning call to discuss policy work. They recommend that for each identified policy initiative, one or two Commissioners will volunteer to be the "captain" of the project. Other Commissioners can get involved in ways that match their interests and availability. A work plan and regular updates will be presented to the full Commission. Expungement, Transfer and Juvenile Sex Offenses are some areas of interest. First we design a work plan and analysis first. Chairman Timberlake mentioned doing quarterly IJJC meetings instead of the current schedule. Nothing official decided.
      Currently, there are 11 initiatives noted by the Commission as priority. Commissioner Biehl gave the group the update on the Expungement Study. She explained the data has been collected and is being compiled for review. They will analyze the data soon. Vice Chairman Jacobs gave the group the update on the JSO Study. They are working on true legislation to change current practice. It has helped design work at the statewide trainings. Reentry/Aftercare Study: We need to update on the various systems and how or what type of effect the IJJC's recommendations had? What positive aspects occurred? Restorative justice is a focus.
    5. Other Committee Updates
      Vice Chairman Jacobs updated the group on the Planning and Grants Committee. There has not been much action needed in recent months. We need to continue to support development and there are no issues with quorum. The JDAI Committee also has no participation issues and continues to work with AOIC and IPSCA. The DMC Committee needs more Commissioner participation but community membership is strong. It was noted that the partnership of others is key in making the IJJC effective.
  4. Adjournment
    The meeting adjourned at 2:05pm.