House Bill 83, passed in the fall of 2011, went in to effect as of January 1st of this year. This is great news for juvenile justice advocates. HB 83 encourages judges to look at community alternatives in lieu of incarceration by providing the following information before sentencing (taken from the Juvenile Justice Institute)
◦ Detailed information on the youth’s background, family, and strengths & challenges, including:
◦ Youth’s age
◦ Youth’s criminal background
◦ Review of results of any assessments of the minor, including child centered assessments such as the CANS
◦ Youth’s educational background (i.e. special ed., school discipline, grade level…)
◦ Physical, mental and emotional health of the youth
◦ Available family support
◦ Detailed information on services that were offered and specific information on why they didn’t work & what could be changed to help them work.
◦ Physical, mental, or emotional health services provided and whether the youth was compliant with services.
◦ Community based services provided, and whether the minor was compliant with the services.
◦ When services fail the court should be provided with a comprehensive explanation of what happened (problems with transportation, support, etc) and what changes might allow the services to be successful.
◦ A listing of specific services within the Department of Juvenile Justice that will meet the individualized needs of the minor.
◦ Detailed information on services available in the community.
◦ Judges can utilize the Illinois Statewide Provider Database (illinoisoutcomes.dcfs.illinois.gov), which recommends available and appropriate services based on the youth’s demographic, clinical, and geographic characteristics.
Community based alternatives have proven to be more effective than incarceration in decreasing repeat offenders and enables youth to stay in contact with his or her support system. HB 83 will also save the state of Illinois millions of dollars (probably more) each year.