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Measurable Progress Series: Redeploy Illinois

Published Dec 8, 2013, Jim Bray, Illinois Models for Change

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Redeploy Illinois targets what some juvenile justice advocates have called a “perverse fiscal incentive” to commit youth to the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice.  As in many states, Illinois’ juvenile court act authorizes judges to sentence a youth found delinquent to state prisons at no cost to the prosecuting county.  On the other hand, if a judge determines the best option for the youth and the community is to keep the youth at home and require the youth to attend counseling sessions, obtain substance abuse or mental health treatment or enroll in after school tutoring, for example, the costs of those services are largely borne by the county or may not even be available. 

The Redeploy Illinois program was created to give counties an incentive and provide resources to keep non-violent youth in their home communities, while providing a range of community-based services to the youth and his or her family.  Through Redeploy Illinois, counties are encouraged – but not mandated – to apply for funding to provide services locally and agree to reduce juvenile commitments by 25 percent from the average number of non-violent juvenile commitments during the previous three years.  Since Redeploy’s creation, participating counties have reduced their commitment of youth to the state’s costly youth prisons by 51 percent, preventing the commitment of more than 800 young people to a juvenile prison.  In the East St. Louis metropolitan area, St. Clair County reduced the average annual commitments from 86 before Redeploy Illinois to only 11 commitments in the most recent program year.

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