Letter: Closing juvenile prisons makes sense for Illinois


Share
Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2012, 2:27 pm
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
Illinois has made tremendous progress over the past decade in cutting the number of youth held in state prisons, by investing in alternatives that improve public safety, decrease recidivism and cut costs for taxpayers.

Gov. Pat Quinn wants to close a number of state facilities including two juvenile correctional facilities. This would be another step in the right direction.

State lawmakers are expected to decide in the next two weeks whether to go along with the plan.

The case for closing the juvenile facilities is particularly strong.

The state's investment in and commitment to community based alternatives to incarceration, like Redeploy Illinois, has helped to cut the youth prison population from 1,900 to less than 980 over the past 10 years. From 2005 to 2011, Redeploy Illinois has saved the state at least $40 million in incarceration costs. Thanks to these interventions, youth prisons are operating well below capacity.

Closing the juvenile prisons in Joliet and Murphysboro, which is already empty, could save t $14 million in the current fiscal year and an estimated $27 million annually. It costs taxpayers over $85,000 annually to house a youth in prison. But it's not just about the dollars saved; juvenile prisons have an unacceptably high failure rate with half the youth returning within three years. Community based alternatives are dramatically more successful at preventing youth from reoffending -- at far less cost.

Seventeen states have closed over 50 juvenile prisons in the last five years with good results, including decreased repeat offending and lowered costs.

Downsizing our state's costly investment in juvenile prisons and shifting to community-based alternatives -- especially for low level offending youth -- makes fiscal and public safety sense.

Elizabeth Clarke,
president,
Juvenile Justice Initiative



















 



Local events heading








  Today is Friday, Sept. 19, the 262nd day of 2014. There are 103 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Charles M. Osborn of this city, a lawyer of prominence, who voted for Lincoln in 1860 is now out strong for McClellan and will take the stump for him.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The George Fleming company had begun its dried fruit packing in a branch plant on 16th Street, Rock Island, employing nearly a hundred workers.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The cornerstone of the new Eagles home was laid. Building committee members were John Kobeman, Fred Ehmke and Frank Wich.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Former Kaiser Wilhelm, in exile, is sad as the Nazis march with communists.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Ninety-two members of the acappella choir at Davenport's West High School today accepted an invitation to perform at the New York World's Fair on June 13, 1965.
1989 -- 25 years ago: A Rock Island woman is one of 50 winners of $10,000 in cash in the Illinois State Lottery's "Celebration "89" instant ticket game. Dawn Loeffler was the third winner to be chosen through daily drawings that began Aug. 28 and will run 50 consecutive days.






(More History)