Illinois Juvenile Correctional Facilities Undergoing Reforms

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Young people often make poor decisions, and this can result in them running afoul of law enforcement. In a worst-case scenario, a juvenile offender must serve time one of Illinois’ five juvenile detention facilities, and this experience is likely to have a major impact on the rest of their lives. Lately, however, state officials have begun studying certain policies and procedures within juvenile corrections housing in an effort to make the system more rehabilitative and reduce recidivism.

Less Solitary Confinement

For those juvenile offenders who find themselves remanded to one of Illinois’ juvenile correctional facilities, it is important to remember that rules and regulations exist in an effort to help each individual adjust to the environment. However, incidents of detainees committing violations, and even assaults on facility employees in some cases, frequently resulted in segregation or worse.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice announced it was implementing steps that would drastically reduce the amount of time juvenile offenders spent in solitary confinement. Sometimes, isolation was ordered for very minor offenses. Although the change in policy followed court action taken by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of juvenile detainees, state officials acknowledged the change was appropriate.

Studies indicated that individuals who experienced long periods of solitary confinement suffered psychological damage that might include paranoia, psychosis, depression, and even suicidal tendencies. While the state still uses segregation or isolation in many cases, the average time one spends in solitary confinement is down to under five hours. That number was nearly 10 times higher just six years ago.

Better Representation

In the past two years, Illinois has also experienced an increase in the number of juvenile detainees facing adult prison terms for charges initiated by juvenile corrections officers against teens in their care. Once again, the ACLU got involved on behalf of incarcerated juveniles after seeing a spike in cases originating from Illinois’ juvenile correctional facilities.

Often, these cases result in juveniles receiving prison sentences they must serve in an adult facility upon reaching the age of 18. However, state officials have begun looking at ways to help alleged offenders avoid those sentences, with help from defense lawyers from outside the area as one action under consideration. They also are proposing additional training for facility employees to help them better handle incidents to avoid violent escalations.

Seek the Help of an Illinois Juvenile Crimes Defense Lawyer

Young people make mistakes, and this can sometimes result in first-hand experience with the juvenile court system. If this happens to your family, make sure your son or daughter has proper representation. Work with a knowledgeable Will County juvenile crimes defense attorney who offers the resources and experience to present a detail-oriented and aggressive defense strategy. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C, to set up a free consultation and discuss your case. Call 815-740-4025 and sit down with an attorney who can help you understand the juvenile justice system in Illinois.