Illinois youth aim to close 127-year-old detention center – Editor 99

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An Illinois youth organization has focused its efforts on closing a juvenile detention center that has existed for more than a century.

The Final 5 Campaign is an organization dedicated to closing the five remaining juvenile prisons in Illinois. One of them, the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles, Illinois, is the organization’s top priority. This particular facility is 127 years old.

Former outreach worker AnnMarie Brown described her experience working at the detention center to WBBM-TV.

“[Inmates are] behind fences and barbed wire, “Brown said.” They are not animals. They are human. You put them in a hostile environment like that, and then you realize why they might act wrong or not feel like they want to be here or are crying out for help. “

“They are human. They deserve to be able to laugh and love and have pain and endure this trauma and be able to talk about it like everyone else,” Brown concluded.

A file photo of a prison cell. A youth organization is working to close the remaining juvenile detention centers in Illinois.
Getty Images, Giphy

The Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles can house more than 300 children, but there are 30 minors incarcerated at the facility at this time.

Jennifer Vollen-Katz is the executive director of the nonpartisan prison watch organization John Howard Association. He spoke with CBS Chicago about the challenges faced by several youth incarcerated in a detention center like the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles.

“A lot of the evidence is very clear that it hurts,” Vollen-Katz said. “And it promotes a greater likelihood of criminal behavior when they are older, so the studies are pretty clear. The research is pretty clear, listening to children who have been affected by the juvenile justice system.”

Through research, Final Campaign 5 found that ten years ago there were eight youth prisons incarcerating nearly 1,200 youth throughout Illinois. Now, there are five prisons that incarcerate only 100 young people.

On Friday, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) released a statement on the latest developments regarding the incarceration of youth.

“Since announcing the Illinois Model of 21st Century Transformation last year, IDJJ has worked diligently to reduce the harm of incarceration, create better outcomes for youth, and increase community safety,” the statement said.

“Over the past few months, we have engaged with justice-involved youth and families, community leaders, system partners, staff, and advocates to gather recommendations on how we can improve the transformation plan,” the statement continued.

The statement concluded with IDJJ’s commitment to transition from “larger prison-like facilities to smaller, therapeutic and developmentally appropriate youth centers closer to youth communities.”

via Editor 99

August 8, 2021 at 08:15AM

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