Chicago’s Cook County juvenile court sent nearly 400 fewer youths to state prisons between 1997 and 2004 because they were referred instead to community-based support services, according to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Each year more than 200,000 young people become involved in the juvenile justice system in Illinois. Most of them have not committed violent crimes, but once they are in the system, many will become more deeply involved. Through the Models for Change initiative, MacArthur supports efforts to explore informal, community-based mechanisms as an alternative to juvenile court for some offenders. One such project, the Community Justice Youth Institute, operates in seven of Chicago’s most disadvantaged communities. Since its launch in 1997, 85 percent of the young offenders entering the program have had no further juvenile court contact. In contrast, the recidivism rate for youth processed through juvenile court is around 60 percent.

Juvenile Justice, Justice, Youth