judges and other policy-makers be willing to forego committing youth to detention and the Illinois
Department of Juvenile Justice? And even if local options remain, will they be consolidated into a
network of large agencies that may be forced to offer cookie-cutter services rather than tailoring
interventions to the unique needs of individual youth?
Another concern about Illinois’ ability to sustain its progress relates to the cyclical nature
of reform in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. As Thomas Bernard observed in his seminal
research, the history of juvenile justice has been marked by swings between lenient approaches to
juvenile crime followed by more punitive policies grounded in public concern about rising
116 The Models for Change initiative both benefitted from and contributed to a national
willingness to re-examine the harsh approach to crime that took hold in the waning decades of the
last century. This trend has accelerated over time as political conservatives, once foes of leniency
in the criminal and juvenile justice systems, have joined forces with traditional reformers in a
bipartisan call to end high incarceration rates and to increase community-based responses and
117 While this alliance is likely to hold during times of unprecedented low crime
rates, one wonders whether it will persist against the inevitable headwinds that will develop when
crime statistics once again trend upward.
Another challenge for Illinois is the uncertain status of sustainability efforts as the
MacArthur Foundation ends its juvenile justice reform work. The resources provided by the
Foundation have allowed a diverse set of Models for Change grantees to focus their energies on
targeted areas of improvement, to develop collaborative relationships at the local, state and
national levels, and to institutionalize reform through policy and practice.
118 Inevitably some of
that focus and energy will be lost without Models for Change at the state’s reform core. To date,
however, the majority of former state and local grantees have found alternative sources of funding
and continue to be actively involved in systems improvement, many working in partnership with
other jurisdictions and individuals involved in Models for Change.
119 The Foundation’s far-sighted
emphasis on sustainability in recent years has increased the likelihood that the momentum that has
been built around juvenile justice reform will continue into the foreseeable future.
Sentencing Reform Corrections Act of 2015, which, among other things, imposes limits on the use of solitary
confinement and expands confidentiality for juvenile records. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015,
15%20Sentencing%20Reform%20and%20Corrections%20Act%20Section%20by%20Section.pdf (last visited Feb.
115 See JEROME G. MILLER, LAST ONE OVER THE WALL 226 (2d ed. 1998) (lamenting Massachusetts’ decision to award
service contracts to large private agencies at the expense of smaller, more nimble (and less stable) organizations under
116 BERNARD & KURLYCHECK, supra note 3, at 3–4.
117 See Bill Keller, Prison Revolt, THE NEW YORKER (June 29, 2015) (commenting on political conservatives’ support
for reform initiatives such as raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction, reducing incarceration, and strengthening
118 See 2010 OVERVIEW, supra note 24.
119 See, e.g., Press Release, Cook County Juvenile Justice System Leaders Pledge Support for Rehabilitation Over
Incarceration (Feb. 19, 2015),
+Commitment_news+release_Feb19.pdf (announcing adoption of a set of juvenile justice principles by Cook County
government and civic leaders).