Juvenile Justice Project
The John Howard Association's Juvenile Justice Project monitors all Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice facilities as they strive to transition from a punitive to a therapeutic and rehabilitative model. Based on our findings we advocate for reforms that will ensure Illinois’ incarcerated youth are receiving proper education, therapy, rehabilitative programming, and humane treatment while incarcerated.
We adhere to the principle that youth are fundamentally different than adults, and work toward changes in our criminal justice and corrections systems that recognize those differences. There is a growing body of research which shows that the brain does not stop developing until a person is in their mid-twenties. Poor decision making skills, impulsivity, the inability to resist peer pressure and to appreciate the consequences of one's actions are all hallmarks of adolescent and teenage behavior. The combination of an immature pre-frontal cortex and possibility of rehabilitation signifies that youth in the criminal justice system should be treated with a different approach than adults.