Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

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A few years ago, DePaul professor Dr. Christina Rivers started teaching a different kind of law and politics course.

About half of the class is made up of typical DePaul students and the other students are serving time at the Stateville Correctional Center. The class is held inside the maximum security prison.

Her class does a group project where they create a policy proposal. Half of the projects students presented were about voting rights and education in the first year at Stateville.

Guy Stephens/ WNIJ

Employees of the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles picketed outside the center Monday to protest what they say is escalating violence against staff and among the youth.

A few dozen juvenile justice specialists and educators gathered along the highway outside the center, waving signs saying “safety first” and “we protect you, who protects us?” while passing cars and trucks honked in response.  Several then told their stories of unprovoked attacks that left them with severe and lingering injuries, while the perpetrators suffered no repercussions.

flickr user / Michael Coghlan "Prison Bars" (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A federal judge is giving Cook County a week to fix what he calls a “glaring inconsistency” in how it treats juvenile arrestees.

    

A federal lawsuit claims the county is violating the constitution by keeping juveniles locked up for more than 48 hours without seeing a judge.

The wait happens because - unlike adult court - the county’s juvenile judges don’t hold probable cause hearings on weekends or holidays.  

This week, Judge Thomas Durkin called it “mind boggling” that the county keeps vulnerable kids locked up longer than adults.

The director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has announced her resignation.

    

A news release from Gov. Bruce Rauner's office on Friday says Candice Jones is “transitioning out of the administration” and will leave June 1.

Rauner named agency operations director Jesse Montgomery as acting director.

The release did not say why Jones is resigning after two years. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bill Whittiker / CC by 2.0

Governor Bruce Rauner's administration says it will close the youth correctional facility in Kewanee.

Juvenile Justice Director Candice Jones says closing the facility, which opened in 2001, will save money, improve rehabilitation of young offenders, and improve community safety. She did not say how much money shuttering the center would save or how those savings would be used.

Illinois.gov

The use of medication to control behavior has gone up in Illinois youth prisons over the past five years. That’s according to an annual report from the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. 

Five years ago, youth prison staff weren’t using medication to control behavior at all.  Now so-called chemical restraints are used on about 1 out of every 100 youth inmates. 

But Illinois still ranks slightly below the national average.