Officials Hold First-Ever Review of IL Pretrial Juvenile Detention System

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Attorneys, state employees and juvenile justice reform advocates will gather virtually Friday to receive updates on county pretrial juvenile detention centers in Illinois, and discuss the findings. In 2021, the Illinois Legislature authorized inspections at all 17 county-based detention centers across the state. Luis Klein, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois, said the summit will, for the first time, evaluate the effectiveness of the state standards for the facilities.

“They’re incredibly important because there’s not a whole lot of oversight on these detention centers,” Klein explained. “There are standards, which they are expected to meet, but there’s no ombudsperson for these detention centers, and they really are allowed to police themselves.”

John Albright with the Illinois Department of Justice will present the report on the inspections. Participants will also hear from Richard Mendel with The Sentencing Project, on his study of youth incarceration. And Lisa Jacobs with the Loyola University School of Law will lead a discussion of the report. Klein pointed out each of the 17 detention centers is not run or managed directly by the Department of Juvenile Justice, but by the counties where they are located. He emphasized the study is critical because, in past years, there has been a lack of transparency and lack of oversight over conditions in the centers.

“These reports are really important because it’s the first time that we really get a standard by which these detention centers are being judged,” Klein noted. “And then, a look at how are they doing, based on these basic and rudimentary standards.”

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