Emily Buss on Gov. Pritzker’s Juvenile Justice Reform

Commentary: Gov. Pritzker’s juvenile justice reform helps. Now broaden it.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement that he would close all large, prison-style facilities in the juvenile justice system and shift juvenile offenders to smaller, community-based facilities is a welcome move. This will allow the state to hold young offenders accountable in a manner that better addresses their developmental needs. This, in turn, will enhance public safety.

But one aspect of the governor’s announcement was deeply troubling. Larger juvenile justice facilities will be turned over to the Illinois Department of Corrections for use with the adult prison population, Pritzker’s office said. This is going in the wrong direction.

The insights leading to Pritzker’s reforms in the juvenile justice system call not for an expansion, but a dramatic shrinking of the adult prison population as well.

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