Independent monitor could be used for Illinois' juvenile prisons

Nov 11, 2013

Illinois is looking to bring in an independent monitor for its juvenile prisons. As IPR'S Brian Mackey reports, it's intended to bring down the rate of sexual abuse.

The job would carry the title "Independent Juvenile Ombudsman." Appointed by the governor, the person would have the right to enter a juvenile prison facility at any time and talk to whomever she pleased.

Legislation to create the position sailed through the Illinois House during veto session. Rep. Kelly Cassidy is a Chicago Democrat and sponsor of the legislation.

"The U.S. Department of Justice released a study that reveled an outrageously high level of sexual abuse in our state's Department of Juvenile Justice facilities."

In fact Illinois was among the four states with the highest rates of abuse -- more than 15 percent, compared to a national average below 10 percent. The report says Illinois' high rate is primarily because of "staff sexual misconduct." No one voted against the measure in the House, but it still has to get through the Senate.