Welcome to the John Howard Association of Illinois

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The John Howard Association, or JHA, independently monitors correctional facilities, policies and practices, and advances reforms needed to achieve a fair, humane and effective criminal justice system in Illinois.

Upcoming events:

September 14th

JHA Annual Luncheon with Guest Speaker John Pfaff, Author of Locked In:  The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform

JHA is looking for new staff members!  Click here to learn more.

July 18, 2017: Youth at IYC Harrisburg Should not be Subject to Outside Prosecution for Minor Offenses

In the past few years Illinois has made great strides in reforming the state’s juvenile justice system.  Agency leaders, legislators, stakeholders and advocates have worked together to integrate new research, evidenced-based best practices, and a renewed commitment to improve rehabilitative outcomes in our juvenile justice system.  Change has also come as a result of a settlement agreement in the ongoing litigation RJ v. Mueller, the lawsuit was brought against the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in order to address the safety and welfare, mental health treatment and educational concerns for youth inside state run youth correctional facilities.  Policies and practices have been rewritten with a focus on rehabilitation of youth, disciplinary practices have been reassessed, and treatment and educational programs have been rigorously evaluated and monitored.  As a result of these and other efforts, DJJ now has fewer youth in custody than ever before in its 11-year history as a stand-alone department, fewer facilities to operate, an increased focus on mental health treatment, education and reentry planning, and has moved away from punitive models of behavior modification in favor of positive behavior reinforcement approaches.

While most juvenile justice experts and professionals agree that these steps have been important and impactful, the longer-term work of changing entrenched punitive perspectives and approaches remains a challenge.  An indicator of the difficulty in moving the juvenile justice system towards a more rehabilitative model that emphasizes individual growth and change is what is happening with shocking and increased frequency to youth in state custody at Illinois Youth Center Harrisburg (IYC Harrisburg).

Read our full statement here.