Identify and Help Troubled Kids Early on to Get Back on Track
Law enforcement is doing a good job addressing juvenile crime and making sure offending juveniles are taken off the streets – almost 45,000 juveniles get arrested every year. The most dangerous of these young people are put behind bars.
The problem – a problem with disastrous consequences for public safety — is that police officers and sheriffs find themselves continually arresting the same kid again and again. Our state’s attorneys are forced to prosecute the same kid again and again. About 3,000 juveniles are committed to a state facility every year and, after they are released, 73% of them are arrested again within two years. Forty-eight per cent of them wind up right behind those same bars within three years.
These extraordinarily high rates of re-offending indicate that troubled kids with mental health problems are not being properly identified and treated; our secure corrections facilities are not effectively counter-acting and correcting criminal behavior; and that kids who serve time are not being adequately monitored with proven interventions when they return to their communities.
The good news is that there are many innovative, proven, evidence-based approaches that, if implemented well, will reduce re-arrests of juveniles, increase public safety, and save money. 2013 (FY14) Policy Recommendations:
A. Implement strategies in the Department of Juvenile Justice that will reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders. Specifically, allocate the resources necessary for the Department of Juvenile Justice to achieve a robust system of after care services and supervision. The current system has been crippled by a lack of the resources necessary to assess, develop, and carry out an after-care plan for every youth exiting secure facilities. This needs to be addressed in a comprehensive evidenced based manner if Illinois is serious about reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders.
B. Support community-based interventions with troubled youth. There are a number of community-based interventions that we believe deserve continued funding in FY 2014. Along with well-run high security youth centers, effective community-based interventions are essential if we are to turn the lives of troubled youth around. Redeploy Illinois is a promising strategy to use fiscal incentives to encourage counties to use a small portion of the state dollars currently spent on expensive corrections beds to build local continuums of care and accountability for youth in the juvenile justice system. We support at least maintaining funding for Redeploy as we look forward to expansion into more of the many counties which are not able to participate.