CHICAGO-- Conditions in Juvenile prisons in Illinois will have to be improved to settle a lawsuit.
The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice has agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois to give youth prisoners better access to education and mental health services. The ACLU had sued the state for keeping kids locked in their cells instead of having them in a classroom or in therapy.
“The plan requires that the department provide the youths a five-hour school day, as opposed to what we have now, which is hundreds of youths getting no school, and others getting only a half a school day,” said Adam Schwartz, senior staff counsel for the ACLU of Illinois.
Schwartz says under current policies, the juvenile justice system has become a “revolving door,” with many juvenile inmates returning or later being incarcerated in adult prisons.
The department also will have to put new policies in place to protect gay and lesbian prisoners, as well as find homes for those who don’t have a place to stay once they’re released.
The settlement also calls for extra staff to be brought on, but it’s not clear how much that will cost the state.