Tight Lid on Ill. Juvenile Offender Program

     CHICAGO (CN) – Illinois improperly withheld information about a program that had the opposite effect of its goal of reducing juvenile recidivism, a group claims in court.
     Though the Aftercare pilot program aimed to reduce youth reincarceration rates by connecting young parolees with resources and guidance, the number of Cook County youth who returned to an IDJJ facility actually increased after the first year of the program in 2011, the complaint filed Wednesday states.
     Chicago Public Media turned to the courts because the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice allegedly shot down a records request from a reporter for its radio station and website WBEZ, according to the complaint.
     IDJJ Director Candice Jones purportedly told the group that data is not yet available, but Chicago Public Media says this answer is inadequate since the IDJJ plans to expand the program statewide, “despite the apparent lack of information and data.”
     Chicago Public Media’s reporter had asked for the reports the IDJJ sent to mandated parties and funding sources, as well as the aftercare and parole history reports of all youth who violated their parole with all identifying information redacted.
     It also wanted training materials for program specialists and a list of places to which participants were referred.
     Though the IDJJ refused to supply the history reports because they contained confidential information about young offenders, Chicago Public Media says that information could have been redacted as requested.
     Chicago Public Media is represented by Jenner & Block.

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