Juvenile Justice Friday

So, Chicago Public Radio’s – Eight Forty-Eight program had a brief report on the Illinois Department of Corrections Juvenile Division on Tuesday. Since I’m the self-appointed (because my ego is bigger than the Sears Tower) juvenile justice expert on Chicago Metblog, I figured I’d try to add to their report.

First of all, I’ve been to a two juvenile DOC facilities. I believe I went to the St. Charles facility in high school; I also went to the Kewanee facility–that is the DOC facility specifically for Juvenile Sex Offenders (JSO for short).

I have a feeling that this is the same facility that Zach, the youth 848 interviewed, was from. He didn’t want to talk about the assault he committed and I believe he mentioned treatment. His description of the cells at the facility were far to generic for me.

848’s report doesn’t understate the conditions. Kewannee is built like a prison. When you walk into the facility, you have no doubt in your head that you are in a different world, one populated by dangerous kids. However, the staff have regular training on treatment, and JSO specific issues. I am no fan of IDOC, but the Kewanee facility at least attempts to address the special needs of their cliente.

Now, while the kids are dangerous, it would be inaccurate to say that all JSOs at Kewanee there have the same level of risk. In fact, this is what led me to suspect that Zach may have come from Kewanee. It was his accent that gave it away: He sounded like he was from downstate. Most counties outside of Cook, DuPage, McHenry and Lake county use Kewanee as their primary treatment facility for JSOs.

The treatment, and supervision, of a typical JSO can be too much for a small probation department. Additionally, a number of down state counties do not have the mental health infrastructure to deal with the very specific quirks of JSOs. Therefore, Kewanee becomes the de facto treatment facility for some jurisdictions.

A few Chicago kids end up in Kewanee; however, Chicago has the resources to provide community based treatment for JSOs. Kids that fail on probation, or are charged as adults, are the ones that typically end up in Kewanee.

That’s my addendum. No where near as good as WBEZ, but at least I tried.

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1 Comment so far

  1. SeaKitty (unregistered) on December 17th, 2005 @ 5:10 pm

    the people who use bloglines (like me) read the summaries.

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