Projects: Illinois Enhanced Aftercare Project: Improving Reentry Outcomes for System–involved Youth

The Vera Institute’s Center on Youth Justice is partnering with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to improve reentry outcomes for young people through the promotion of individualized services, enhanced aftercare, and case management that is data-driven and evidence-based.  This project is supported with funding from the Public Welfare Foundation.

After working closely with Vera in 2014 to identify key statewide juvenile justice reform areas and goals, DJJ is looking to develop a structured decision-making framework to determine the appropriate initial level of post-release supervision based on individual youth needs.  Similarly, DJJ wants to develop an evidence-based system of graduated responses to behavior for young people released from DJJ facilities.

DJJ’s aftercare system—tasked with the supervision and support of youth reentering their communities post-release—has already demonstrated a commitment to best practices in youth reentry. To help DJJ advance its goal of improving aftercare, Vera will oversee a yearlong project to further inform the partnership of national best practices around supervision levels, risk and need principles, and using validated assessment tools.

Vera will also develop a Youth Advisory Group (YAG) to provide feedback on the experiences of youth involved with DJJ’s aftercare and to support aftercare in refining its current system of graduated sanctions with the goal of tracking youth progress and linking positive behavior to levels of supervision.

How does limiting youth supervision and sanctions promote public safety?

There is widespread agreement that not every youth requires the same type or intensity of service and supervision. For example, youth with a high risk of reoffending may require more supervision and monitoring upon reentry, while intensive supervision and monitoring can actually produce worse outcomes in youth with lower levels of risk and divert limited resources from other youth in need. Structured decision making processes for determining appropriate supervision and matching interventions to the youth’s behavior will enable DJJ staff to respond to challenging youth behavior in a measured way.

 

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Director, Center on Youth Justice