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Illinois announces plan to transform state's juvenile justice system

"An essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed the people they serve – some by design," Gov. Pritzker said
Credit: SLBJ

CHICAGO — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Lt. General Juliana Stratton announced a new plan to transform the state’s juvenile justice system over the next four years.

The "21st Century Illinois Transformative Model" focuses on reducing the harm of incarceration, the governor’s office said in a press release.

Through the new model, youth will be transitioned to small, regional residential centers. The model will also invest in "community wraparound support" and intervention services for "justice involved youth" and increase financial support for victim services in communities impacted by violence.

The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and the Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative (JEO) used decades of evidence from across the country to create the plan, according to the release.

"An essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed the people they serve – some by design. It means doing everything in our power to reverse the tide," said Pritzker. "It’s in that spirit that over the next four years, my administration is transforming our juvenile justice system from one that disproportionately harms Black youth, families and communities to a nation-leading, restorative and therapeutic model that supports all Illinois youth, families and communities more equitably."

Phase I of the model includes “increased community investment in wraparound support, intervention services and reentry programs for justice involved youth.” 

Phase II and III begin next year and will “continue the regional reinvestments” and start transferring DJJ’s larger facilities to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“Creating a juvenile justice system that provides youth, and their families, with the care and support they need to succeed in life is critical piece of transforming communities that have suffered from disinvestment,” said Illinois Senator Heather Steans. “The new 21st Century Illinois Transformation Model the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice announced today will better serve Illinois youths and set them on a path to a fulfilling future.”

Click here for more information on the plan.