Roy Gilbert

Chicago watchdog: Juvenile diversion program fails at goals

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CHICAGO (AP) — A decade-old program that was supposed to keep many juveniles out of the criminal justice system upon arrest has suffered from bad record-keeping, poor communication between city departments, and a lack of coherent and consistent goals, according to a report from the city’s Inspector General published Tuesday.

The Juvenile Intervention and Support Center, known as the JISC, opened its doors in 2006 and was supposed to be modeled off of successful programs in other parts of the country. The idea was to link youth who had been arrested for the first time or for low-level offenses to programs and services rather than referring them to criminal court, a process known as diversion.

Depending on a youth’s arrest history and current charge, police officers could decide to send them home without a charge — known in Illinois as a “station adjustment,” refer them to a case manager to be screened for social services, or refer them to court for formal processing. One of the innovations of the JISC was supposed to be that case managers would be located within the same building, allowing for a smooth handoff between police and social services.

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The nonprofit news outlet Injustice Watch provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.

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A decade ago, an outside audit warned early fractures between the various partners — chiefly the Chicago Police Department and the city’s Department of Children and Youth Services (later merged into the Department of Family and Support Services) […]

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