Press Release (10/23/2013)

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice -- Arthur D. Bishop, Director
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Contact: Alka Nayyar, 312-814-0097

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Director Arthur Bishop Issues Statement on Report Commissioned to Help Reduce and Prevent Sexual Victimization of Youth at Illinois Youth Centers

SPRINGFIELD, October 23, 2013. The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ)’s Director Arthur Bishop today issued a statement on a report commissioned by IDJJ, conducted by Kinsale Management Consulting, following the latest national survey on rates of sexual victimization of youth in juvenile facilities. IDJJ will utilize the analysis and subsequent recommendations to improve Department policies, procedures and security controls to help reduce and prevent sexual victimization of youth in Illinois juvenile facilities and support IDJJ’s continued zero-tolerance policy toward sexual victimization.

Immediately after the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) survey, Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth 2012: National Survey of Youth in Custody, was released in June 2013, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice acted aggressively to continue to reform the Department and implemented an action plan to address the concerns raised in the BJS report. The Department takes these concerns very seriously, and part of the action plan was to hire outside experts to review our policies, procedures, and protocols for prevention of sexual abuse in our facilities.

We have received their final report and recommendations. We sincerely appreciate the thorough review that Dr. McChesney and her team with Kinsale Management Consulting completed in a short time frame.

Other steps taken by the Department since the release of the survey in June to address concerns include the following:

  • Established a hotline for youth to report any allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct.
  • Expanded and upgraded training programs for new and existing staff to enhance training on sexual abuse prevention, intervention, custodial sexual misconduct, and "red flag" situations – including knowing appropriate boundaries when interacting with youth and knowing their role as "Mandated Reporters", which requires reporting any abuses that they may witness to the appropriate state authorities.
  • Scheduled training programs for investigators provided through the National Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Resource Center for November and bolstering compliance with PREA.
  • Worked collaboratively with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) to provide training for IDJJ training staff in October on youth victimization and PREA standards, which will be instituted at the facilities for all staff beginning in November.
  • Partnered with the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change and hired a Training and Professional Development Consultant and a Project Manager to help identify youth and staff needs, conduct individualized facility assessments, develop a professional development training center, and provide technical assistance and quality assurance as needed.
  • Establishment of a statewide Youth Advisory Council to ensure that the voices of youth are heard.
  • Assessing video surveillance capabilities within our youth facilities as an additional means to enhance safety for youth and staff.
  • Working to fill vacancies as quickly as possible.
  • Exploring opportunities to enhance family engagement with youth in the Youth Centers.
  • Pursuing the introduction of legislation that creates an Independent Juvenile Ombudsman.

The Department of Juvenile Justice has zero tolerance for any type of sexual abuse, harassment or victimization and is committed to providing safe, rehabilitative, and appropriately secure environments for youth and staff. The recommendations included in the Kinsale Management Consulting report will be used to bolster the Department’s efforts to protect youth committed to our care.