IYC Harrisburg

In December 2014, the John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) visited Illinois Youth Center (IYC)-Harrisburg (Harrisburg), which houses male youth, serves as the southern reception and classification center for boys for the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ), and is located about 20 miles east of Marion, Illinois.

Read JHA's latest report here.

Vital Statistics
Population: 175
Average Age: 17.17
Median length of stay: 6 months
Average Annual cost per youth: $122,271
Population by Race: 64% Black, 34% White, 2% Hispanic, and 1% Asian (1)
Committing offense: 1% Murder (2), 9% Class X, 28% Class 1, 37% Class 2, 21% Class 3, 1% Class 4 felonies, and 3% Class A Misdemeanors
(Source: IDJJ December 2014)

Key Observations

  • JHA found that overall conditions at Harrisburg had improved since the time of our 2013 visit and report.
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), an evidence-based behavioral management system, had been fully implemented and disciplinary confinement was not being used.
  • Staff have received additional training and education in several areas, including cultural competency, compliance with standards under the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and using PBIS techniques in place of disciplinary confinement.
  • Harrisburg’s problematic Phoenix Program for youth with serious behavioral problems has been dismantled. Youth with serious problem behaviors are less isolated, have more educational and recreational opportunities, and spend more time outside of their cells than before.
  • System-wide improvements are still needed to appropriately identify and address youths’ rehabilitative treatment needs. Harrisburg’s clinical staff are being trained to administer the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI), a comprehensive assessment tool to measure youths’ risks, needs, and protective factors to produce better reentry outcomes. Some problems were noted in the ongoing use of the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2), which is used to identify youth with immediate mental health issues, as well as the criteria used to include Harrisburg youth in substance abuse treatment.
  • Aftercare was not yet meeting its stated goals of providing youth with early reentry planning. Funding and support for the program remain in flux due to the ongoing impasse among lawmakers over the state budget.
  • More than half of the Harrisburg population was in custody for parole violations.
  • Harrisburg still lacked vocational and post-secondary programming, and was understaffed in teaching positions at the time of JHA’s visit.

Read JHA's 2013 report here.
Read JHA's 2012 report here.

JHA's Juvenile Justice Project is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Illinois Models for Change Initiative.