Innovation Brief: Ogle County’s Juvenile Justice Council
Published Dec 12, 2013, Lisa Jacobs and Jim Bray, Illinois Models for Change
Ogle County in northwestern Illinois looks like many rural communities, with a relatively small population (53,497) spread across a large geographic area (758 square miles). But Ogle County has distinguished itself from most rural — or urban — counties in Illinois by drawing together local juvenile justice and community leaders to forge shared goals for their system and to improve the outcomes of young people, families and the communities across the county. With Models for Change support, Ogle County’s Juvenile Justice Council has opened lines of communications with the seven different law enforcement agencies and 11 school districts in the county, gathered and distributed data about juveniles in contact with law enforcement agencies, and developed a strong and successful model of local governance and planning. The Council has been strengthened by the strong personal commitment of county leaders in the judiciary, the prosecutor’s office and probation services, and a small professional staff to keep the Council’s work focused and rooted in research on county needs and best practices.
Ogle County has created replicable models of local collaboration to produce meaningful alternatives to prosecution or confinement and to improve resources for young people, families, communities and the juvenile justice professionals who serve them. Ogle’s Juvenile Justice Council has increased diversion of young people from unnecessary system involvement; strengthened partnerships with schools, law enforcement, the community and other justice system partners; improved mental health screening and delivery of mental health services to those in need; increased local restorative justice options; and produced innovative strategies to encourage expungement of minor juvenile records, which often are obstacles to employment, education and success in life.