Letter: Closing juvenile prisons makes sense for Illinois


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Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2012, 2:27 pm
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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

















 



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  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.








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