rehabilitative process and, in more serious cases, can lead to self-harm or harm to others, including
staff and other youth.
72 As a result, juvenile justice and health practitioners have long advocated
for the early identification of mental disorders in youth.
73 In order to promote identification of
possible mental disorders among justice-involved youth, and at the urging of juvenile justice and
behavioral health advocates, an early Models for Change activity brought Illinois stakeholders
together to learn about the prevalence of mental health disorders among delinquent youth and to
inform them about the availability of scientifically-validated tools for screening and assessing a
youth’s mental health needs. As awareness of the mental health needs of system-involved youth
grew, the use of mental health screening and assessment practices increased around the state.
some point, however, practitioners noted that some youth were unwilling to participate in mental
health evaluations out of a concern that their disclosures might be used against them in their
juvenile court cases.
75 The Illinois General Assembly adopted legislation that bars the use of a
juvenile’s statement or other incriminating information as evidence of guilt at trial if the statement
was made as part of a behavioral health screening, assessment, or treatment program.
76 As a result
of these efforts, today the use of mental health screening and assessment instruments such as the
MAYSI-2 have become routine in many of the state’s detention centers, probation departments
and service provider programs.
77 In addition, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice now
screens all youth for mental health disorders when they enter the system.
78 The Department uses
the results of the screening to decide on a youth’s classification and placement and to develop a
mental health treatment plan when necessary.
III. FIVE LESSONS LEARNED
As the above examples of changes to Illinois’ juvenile justice system suggest, over the
course of a decade Models for Change and its partners were able to achieve significant reforms in
disorder, many have co-occurring disorders such as substance abuse and one in five suffers from a debilitating mental
72 VINCENT, supra note 71, at 1–2 (discussing the short and longer term benefits of mental health screening as including
immediate identification of youth at risk of suicide as well as helping to identify appropriate longer-term services).
See also David Murphey, Megan Barry and Brigette Vaughn, Mental Health Disorders, CHILD TRENDS
(citing suicide risk and self-harming behaviors in adolescents with mental health disorders and recommending early
identification and treatment as strategies for reducing such behaviors).
73 See, e.g., Thomas Grisso, Adolescent Offenders with Mental Disorders, in JUVENILE JUSTICE, THE FUTURE OF
CHILDREN 143-59 (2008) (advocating for improved methods for identifying youth with mental health disorders at all
stages of the juvenile justice process and greater use of community-based networks to provide mental health services
74 The Author served as the director of the Illinois Models for Change initiative from 2005 – 2015 when the Foundation
ended its involvement in juvenile justice reform. In her role as director, she was responsible for overseeing all aspects
of the initiative, including substantive programming, administration and grants management. She also co-chaired the
Illinois Juvenile Justice Research Consortium and is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council.
76 Public Act 96-1251(2011) (codified as amended at 705 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 405/5-401.5 (h) (West 2015)).
77 See VINCENT, supra note 71 (describing the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument – Version 2 (MAYSI-2) as
a self-reporting fifty-two-question instrument that measures a variety of symptoms, including suicide ideation).
78 See generally OVERVIE W OF SCREENING AND ASSESSMENT IN ILLINOIS’ JUVENILE JUS TICE SYS TEM (Illinois Juvenile
Justice Research and Info. Consortium ed.),
visited Feb. 2, 2016).