The state has kept kids out of prison by keeping them out of prison.
An analysis by the Illinois Department of Human Services finds that the Redeploy Illinois program, under which juveniles who commit low-level crimes receive counseling in their communities, plus services such as substance abuse recovery or remedial education, has resulted in a 54 percent reduction in kids incarcerated in youth prisons.
DHS spokesman Januari Smith says the diversion works. “Community-based corrections is a proven successful tool to use for juvenile offenders. It has shown to better rehabilitate delinquent youth, and at the same time it’s more cost-effective for the state,” she said.
That’s because Redeploy Illinois costs about $7,000 per offender per year, while the annual cost of putting a kid in juvenile prison is $111,000. Savings since the program began in 2005: $60 million, according to the analysis.
Redeploy Illinois is not a statewide program, though that is the goal. It operates in 48 counties, and those counties reduced their commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice by 238 in 2012. In 2013, the program served 352 youth.
The newest counties to join are LaSalle, Kankakee, Winnebago, and Union. Approved for inclusion soon are Monroe, Randolph, Perry, Washington, Bureau, Grundy and Iroquois counties.