Today we focus on the work of the Final 5 Campaign as they push to force the closure of Illinois’ juvenile youth centers. According to the Campaign’s website 10 years ago the centers across the state used to house as many as 1,200 youths in their 10 facilities. The reductions in the number of youths incarcerated is due mostly to changes in Illinois law have put a stop to housing those who were convicted of misdemeanor offenses. Also contributing to the reduction in the number of those incarcerated is that the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice created their own parole oversight mechanism which has reduced the number of youth that are incarcerated for technical violations of their release.
We are very excited to have Nicole Negrete from the Campaign on our podcast today to discuss their work. The Campaign is driven by formerly incarcerated youth or youth impacted by a family member, friend, or community member. This reality adds to the urgency and dedication to those behind the campaign.
America more broadly and Illinois specifically has for a very long time been a carceral state that is convinced that locking youth up for even the most minor offenses will in the long term bring about safer communities. Unfortunately for the youth in Illinois it has taken policymakers far too long to learn what criminologists have known for a long time, deterrence is not as successful as ideologues believe it is. This has led the state to incarcerate too many youth for far too long regardless of what best practices and social science research shows works. This has had incalculable impact on communities and youth throughout Illinois.