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April 14, 2017

Governor Attends Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Specialist Graduation Ceremony

Allie Bovis

Congratulates graduates for entering an agency that is embracing evidence-based approaches to rehabilitate youth

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Bruce Rauner today congratulated the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) Specialist Interns at the IDJJ graduation ceremony for their work to serve the people of Illinois. The governor commended the agency on the steps it's taken to shift the state's juvenile justice system into a youth-focused, rehabilitative model.

"I am proud that you are joining the agency at a time of great change, as we continue our transformation from an adult-focused punitive model to a youth-focused rehabilitative model," Governor Rauner said. "You have a critical role to play in helping to rehabilitate youth and to ensure a successful return to their communities. Improving youth outcomes not only protects public safety by reducing recidivism rates, but also builds a new generation of productive Illinois residents."

The ceremony recognized those who have completed coursework in six weeks. IDJJ Director Heidi Mueller also presented the Professional Standards Award to Specialist Intern Joanne Perkins and the Initiative Award to Specialist Intern Don Freeman to recognize their dedication to the training process.

"I am thankful that you are joining the agency during a time of significant change that puts us all in a better position to positively impact the lives of our state's most vulnerable youth," said Director Mueller. "By taking your oath today, you are being entrusted with the essential obligation of serving the people of Illinois and the youth in our care."

Since taking office, Governor Rauner has prioritized reforming the criminal justice system in Illinois. For juvenile justice, this has included signing legislation to right-size IDJJ's population to focus resources on the highest risk youth and ensuring that lower risk youth remain in their communities and giving the agency authority to develop an evidence-based, objective process for determining whether youth are ready for release.

In an effort to support youth development, IDJJ has improved educational standards, opened vocational centers within all facilities, and has partnered with community organizations to open Day Reporting Centers for Aftercare youth in Chicago, East St. Louis, Peoria, and Champaign. The agency has also supported increase staffing levels and enhancing training to include conflict resolution and de-escalation, crisis intervention, and behavior management.

Video of the event can be found here.


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