“But, in the end, I had to remind myself that I was dealing with children.”
Alex Kotlowitz, There are No Children Here.
I urge all progressives in Illinois to contact their state house members and ask them to support HB 180. This is a chance to really help vulnerable children AND contribute to a long-term reduction in crime!
Under proposed legislation, Illinois would adopt a “therapeutic” rather than a “punitive” model for treating incarcerated juveniles. In so doing, it would follow the much-praised Missouri model of youth incarceration (yes, Red Missouri has led the way on this issue- go figure!) Missouri has been amply rewarded with a significantly reduced youth recidivism rate.
Specifically, HB 180 would accomplish the following: 1) separate the juvenile justice system from the adult Department of Corrections and set up a new agency to deal specifically with juvenile detainees; 2) requires juvenile detention personnel to have four year degrees in a field such as psychology or social work.
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It has been convincingly shown that the changes would not impose additional costs on the much-stressed Illinois budget. The Senate version of the bill passed by a vote of 42-15, with a surprising level of Republican support.
The opposition, unfortunately is led by the AFSCME, the state employees union. AFSCME fears salary and pension losses among members who are currently juvenile jailers, but under the new system will no longer meet the qualifications to work with juveniles and will have to transition into the adult system. I am wildly pro-union and specifically adore AFSCME, but it is wrong on this one and must be opposed.
The following links provide more information on this matter: (1) The text and status of HB 180; (2) A Decatur Herald article on the bill; (3) AFSCME’s statement in opposition.