Forward from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
This 2014 Detention Data Report has been produced by the Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) at the University of Illinois with our financial support. We also provide funding for CPRD to maintain the statewide Juvenile Management Information System (JMIS) database. All Illinois detention centers provide case-specific data to JMIS. Detention centers can access data and reports on their own youth, and the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts can access all data in the system. JMIS data is utilized by Commission staff to ensure compliance with the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDP Act).
Our support for the JMIS data system and the publication of detention data facilitate our federally-mandated work. This data helps as we monitor detention center admissions to maintain compliance with the deinstitutionalization of status offenders and DMC core requirements.
In presenting this report, the Commission notes the Illinois Juvenile Court Act provision limiting the use of secure detention and directing judges to use least restrictive measures to protect the community and the individual youth before the court These provisions reflect the research on the harmful effects of detention indicating that separation from positive supports in the community and mixing with a negative peer group often does more harm than good.
The Commission publishes this report to foster compliance with the JJDPA and to provide a tool for system stakeholders and community members to access and understand detention data, which can in turn support the development of policy and practices that protect public safety, produce positive outcomes for youth, and prudently use public resources. In providing this data to state and local stakeholders, the Commission notes the following key findings and recommendations:
- Detention admissions declined 12% from 2010 to 2014 and average daily population declined 1% during this time.
- Detention admissions and average daily population increased from 2013 to 2014. Admissions increased from 11,631 in 2013 to 12,039 in 2014; statewide average daily population also increased by 16%. While the JMIS data cannot specifically determine the cause of this increase, the increase occurred at the same time as "raise the age" legislation increased the upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction for felony offenses to include 17-year-olds, a population previously held in county jails.
- Detention usage varies considerably by jurisdiction. It is unclear why admission rates are disparate from county to county, but these data should be examined by policymakers. Locally adopted admission screening criteria, practice, and resource availability, and other factors may contribute to the differences.
- Racial and ethnic disparities (or Disproportionate Minority Contact) are quite pronounced. The 2014 increase in admissions and average daily population consists primarily of minority youth, especially black youth, while admissions for white youth decreased. Racial and ethnic disparities in detention must be examined and addressed in order to comply with the JJDP Act and to ensure that Illinois' juvenile justice system is fundamentally fair.
- Local juvenile justice stakeholders, including juvenile justice councils, are encouraged to use the data in this report to examine their use of detention, supplemented with locally-available data.
- We ask that state and local stakeholders look closely at race and ethnicity data to understand the factors which lead to disparities in their community and to develop a plan to address inequalities.
- Stakeholders are also encouraged to compare their use of detention with that in similar communities in order to identify geographic disparities and to confirm that local detention practice is consistent with the law and fundamental fairness.
- As economic, budgetary, and other factors may result in the closure of detention facilities, we ask stakeholders to follow the requirements of the JJDP Act whenever young people may be processed through adult facilities, particularly the provisions for separation of youth from adult offenders and removal from adult facilities within six hours.
- Similarly, the state's current fiscal environment may weaken the network of community-based services and supports for youth and their families. Following the mandate of the JJDP Act, Illinois must ensure that non-offenders and status offenders are not securely detained. Research indicates that detaining these youth, including runaways and victims of abuse and neglect, can result in trauma and undermine the youth's well-being.
In conclusion, the Commission invites stakeholders and policymakers from across the state to a conversation about detention practices. Every community can use this report to improve practices so that youth are not detained unnecessarily or for longer than necessary and have access to community based services. We are committed to ensuring compliance with the JJDP Act and supporting a fair juvenile justice system that promotes public safety and positive youth outcomes. For information about our efforts and to get involved, visit our website at ijjc.illinois.gov.