JJI Statement on IDJJ Closure of IYC Kewanee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         Contact: Elizabeth Clarke

February 12, 2016; 847-894-420

Closure of IYC Kewanee, by Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

Closure of Problematic Prison in Line with Best Practice Models for Juvenile Justice

CHICAGO – The Juvenile Justice Initiative applauds the announcement by Director Candice Jones that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice will close the prison at Kewanee as part of its effort to transition Illinois “to a new model of rehabilitating youth that aligns with national best practices and improves community safety”.

Along with the John Howard Association and Mary Dixon of the ACLU, the Juvenile Justice Initiative has consistently advocated for the closure of IYC Kewanee, based on concerns over the safety and welfare of the children in prison. Among other concerns, the isolated location of IYC Kewanee made it particularly challenging to attract and retain staff with the necessary adolescent-specific qualifications, especially staff to provide essential mental health services.

The IDJJ announcement includes the news that Illinois has reduced its juvenile prison population to 436 youth. The following is a statement by Elizabeth Clarke, President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative:

“Illinois is to be commended for steadily reducing its reliance on youth prisons while shifting resources to less costly and more effective community based alternatives through programs such as Redeploy Illinois. Deprivation of liberty should be the last resort.   Investment of state resources in community alternatives rather than incarceration has consistently been proven to lead to better outcomes including lower repeat offending. We urge the state to shift the savings from this closure to community-based alternatives, and to fully fund a comprehensive continuum of community based alternatives throughout the state.”

Please contact the Juvenile Justice Initiative at (847) 864-1567 for additional information.


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