IL Models for Change Report on DJJ Behavioral Health
In September, 2009, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice requested technical assistance from the Illinois Models for Change initiative in evaluating the department’s behavioral health policies, practices and programming. The department’s director requested the assistance after two youth committed suicide in DJJ facilities within a 12-month period, in Sept. 2008 and Sept. 2009.
The Models for Change initiative assembled a team of national and local mental health and corrections experts to evaluate the department’s behavioral health program and make recommendations, based on a series of visits to the department’s eight juvenile facilities.
Systemwide, the assessment team found some positive steps toward a more rehabilitative model of corrections, such as a reduction in the long-term use of solitary confinement for youth with behavioral problems and a transition to the use of single beds rather than bunk beds, which pose a risk for suicidal youth.
Still, the team found widespread and serious deficiencies in the department’s behavioral health programs, from the failure to use validated mental health and risk-assessment screening and assessment instruments, the lack of a comprehensive continuum of behavioral health services, a “critical shortage” of behavioral health personnel resulting in high caseloads for professional staff, as well as a lack of adequate training for staff on behavioral health issues.
View the July, 2010 report here.
John Howard Association of IL Monitoring Reports for State Juvenile Prisons
- 2013 Monitoring Visit to IYC-Harrisburg
- 2013 Monitoring Report on IYC-St. Charles
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Kewanee 2013
- Moving Beyond Transition
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Chicago 2013
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Kewanee 2012
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Warrenville 2012
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Chicago 2012
- Monitoring Visit to IYC-Joliet 2012
- Monitoring Visit to IYC St. Charles 2012
- A JHA Special Report: DJJ’s Southern Facilities
- 2011 Year-End Assessment of Department of Juvenile Justice
- Monitoring Tour of IYC-Kewanee 6/16/2011
- Monitoring Tour of IYC-Joliet April 21, 2011
- Monitoring Tour of IYC-Murphysboro March 24, 2011
- Monitoring Tour of IYC-Harrisburg March 23, 2011
ACLU Lawsuit to Improve Conditions, Services in State Juvenile Prisons
The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice agreed in September, 2012 to improve conditions and services for youth being held in juvenile justice facilities, under a provisional agreement reached in a federal class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
Under the provisional agreement, independent experts would investigate conditions and procedures and present a plan for improvement within six months.
The lawsuit charges that the state provides youth with inadequate services in such areas as mental health care and education and that youth are subjected to dangerous and unlawful conditions, including excessive solitary confinement.
Click here to read the Chicago Sun-Times story on the lawsuit and provisional agreement.
U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly on Dec. 6, 2012 approved an agreement between the ACLU of Illinois and the state Department of Juvenile Justice.
“We are ready to begin the process of improving services and care for youth at our state juvenile justice facilities,” said Adam Schwartz, senior staff counsel at the ACLU of Illinois. “We look forward to working with the Department of Juvenile Justice to ensure that the problems facing Illinois youth will be addressed and corrected.”
The consent decree calls for court-appointed experts to develop a remedial plan to improve mental health services, education, the use of solitary confinement, safety and the commitment of youth beyond their release date solely for lack of a community placement.