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Illinois Increases Efforts to Reduce Youth Recidivism

Aug 18, 2012, Illinois Models for Change, NPR

NPR's All Things Considered program recently reported on states reexamining how to "make sure kids who've committed a crime once don't end up in a juvenile facility again."  Reporter Cheryl Corley's story, "Kids Behind Bars: Illinois Rethinks Juvenile Justice," included interviews with Models for Change partners in Illinois.  Listen here:

Helping young offenders become responsible adults and avoid cycling in and out of prison has become a major focus of juvenile justice leaders in Illinois.

Last year, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission's "Youth Reentry Improvement Report" found the state's "reentry" system did little to prepare youth and their families for the youth's return home and that youth leaving prison rarely received services that could help prevent their return to expensive youth prisons.

But improvements are being made.  The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice's Aftercare Specialist program has begun to replace adult-oriented parole officers with trained specialists who have  juvenile-only caseloads and begin working with youth and their family on the first day of the youth's incarceration.

In July, the Commission announced the start of a demonstration project to help the transition of youth leaving prison and returning to their home communities.  The nearly $1.5 million pilot project is serving youth on the West Side of Chicago and in the Metro East region across the river from St. Louis, communities that have historically had among the highest rate of youth incarceration in Illinois.

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission's "Youth Reentry Improvement Report"

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission news release, "Demonstration Project to Help Juvenile Offenders Make Successful Transition Back to Their Home Communities"

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.