SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today applauded members of the Illinois General Assembly for passing legislation creating a new Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. The new department will provide treatment and services including education, vocational, social and emotional services to the state’s youngest offenders.
Senate Bill 92, sponsored by Rep. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago) and Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago) separates the juvenile justice division from within the Department of Corrections and makes it its own agency. The legislation received final approval in the Illinois Senate today. It was approved in the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday.
“Creating this new department means giving children who need help more counseling, education, and treatment. We need to do whatever we can to put them on the right path, and the new agency signals our commitment to doing just that. I applaud Rep. Collins and Sen. Cullerton for leading this effort,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
“I would like to thank Gov. Rod Blagojevich for recognizing that juveniles are different from adults and for giving us the opportunity to correct the problem. I plan to work with the Governor to ensure that all of the services and programs that are needed to succeed in the creation of this new agency are accomplished,” said Rep. Collins.
“Senate Bill 92 is a new start with a new mind set regarding juvenile justice in Illinois. Establishing a separate department will do more to reduce crime and rehabilitate juveniles rather than placing them in a system where they become hardened criminals,” State Senator John Cullerton
There are approximately 1,400 juveniles incarcerated within the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and nearly 47 percent of juvenile offenders return to the system. By creating a separate Department of Juvenile Justice, young offenders will receive individualized services including educational, vocational, social, emotional services that will help enable them to become productive adults. It’s expected that the new department will help reduce the number of juvenile offenders that return to the juvenile system.
In addition to the services provided inside of juvenile facilities, the new department will also provide transitional and post-release treatment programs for juveniles, including counseling, mental health, and substance abuse services.
Senate Bill 92 moves eight juvenile facilities and the Department of Corrections School District into the new department. The new department is “budget-neutral” meaning its funding, approximately $125 million, will simply be transferred from IDOC’s existing budget.
Illinois joins 39 other states that currently separate their juvenile and adult corrections systems.