Wisconsin remains on a path to dramatically overhaul its juvenile justice system, but to get to the finish line, the state may need to find more money than originally expected.
AB 953, a bipartisan bill passed in 2018, aims to keep most young offenders in smaller, regional facilities, rather than locked up in a larger, faraway youth prison in northern Wisconsin. That goal aligns with research on how to best rehabilitate young people, says Mary Jo Meyers, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services.
Kansas will cut by three-fifths the number of juvenile offenders sent to out-of-state facilities, under legislation (SB 367) signed into law in April by Gov. Sam Brownback. The law resulted from recommendations issued in November 2015 by a bipartisan working group that included members from the legislative, executive and judicial branches. (The group also got assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice.)
Each year, tens of thousands of incarcerated youths rely on state residential facilities to provide them with essential services during their time of commitment, including education. But according to a 2015 study by The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, most of these youths lack access to many of the same educational opportunities as their peers in the community — such as credit recovery programs, GED preparation, and career and technical education courses.
In 2012, the Indiana Department of Correction’s Division of Youth Services had that goal in mind when it implemented a new model for evaluating its teachers. The model, known as RISE, is the same one used in Indiana’s public schools.
Illinois lawmakers say a series of legislative reforms this year will help “right-size” the state’s juvenile justice system. The bills were signed into law in July. Under SB 1560, minors will not be committed to Department of Juvenile Justice facilities for misdemeanor offenses, and minors cannot be detained in a county jail for “status offenses.”