Illinois Justice Project

Question Four

JISC and DFSS

The Chicago Police Department operates the Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (JISC), a physical space and approach to juvenile delinquency designed to take in children that are arrested and determine the disposition that provides the greatest opportunities for future success. The JISC is located at 3900 S. California Avenue and provides police for seven Districts: 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. A central purpose of the JISC is to reduce crime and recidivism.

It is modeled after centers in other cities (e.g. Miami), where the underlying principles include connection and linkage to services, avoidance of arrest, transparency in data, and inclusion of stakeholders in an advisory capacity.

A key principle behind the JISC is that intervening in a youth’s life and connecting him or her and their families with providers in the social services, health care, and education systems is a more effective way to prevent future delinquency for some children than incarceration or other traditional juvenile justice approaches. 

Lightfoot

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Advocates have argued that the JISC’s has failed to employ model principles—such as avoidance of arrests, transparency in data, and inclusion of stakeholders which has hampered the JISC from those that could provide more services—and therefore, has prevented the JISC from fulfilling its purpose of reducing crime and recidivism. How would you improve the JISC? Do you think that an improved program design and implementation could improve outcomes for individual juveniles, families and communities as it has in cities like Miami where just 5 percent of the youth in the program recidivate?  If so, what design would you implement?

Transparency, accountability, stakeholder participation and civilian oversight are essential to a successful, effective government, and this includes the Chicago Police Department (CPD). I have advocated for civilian oversight of CPD, which would provide transparency and accountability of JISC. In addition, a Mayor’s Office of Public Safety employing experts in public health and social services would be involved in overseeing JISC and ensuring that model principles are employed.

Would you support third-party oversight of the JISC?

I support civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department, and I have come out in favor of many of the recommendations made by the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability.

The JISC relies on support from the Department of Family and Support Services, a wing of city government that distributes millions of dollars in services each year that can decrease violence by supporting workforce development, homeless support and services for the formerly incarcerated. Would you direct DFSS dollars in a different manner?

If I am elected, my administration will analyze how each city department, including DFSS, spends taxpayer dollars to ensure that they are being used efficiently and effectively.


Advocates have argued that the JISC’s has failed to employ model principles—such as avoidance of arrests, transparency in data, and inclusion of stakeholders which has hampered the JISC from those that could provide more services—and therefore, has prevented the JISC from fulfilling its purpose of reducing crime and recidivism. How would you improve the JISC? Do you think that an improved program design and implementation could improve outcomes for individual juveniles, families and communities as it has in cities like Miami where just 5 percent of the youth in the program recidivate?  If so, what design would you implement?

 It is clear that the JISC could be improved and I would task my staff to work with all the stakeholders at the table to identify the best path forward based on an evaluation of the data and review of the concerns expressed.  If the JISC achieved better outcomes including more successful diversions from the justice system and fewer re-arrests it would benefit both juveniles and the entire community.  It must be remembered that the JISC in Miami is primarily operated under the auspices of the providers who offer services to the juveniles brought there.  In contrast, the JISC in Chicago is primarily operated by the Chicago Police Department.  Giving the providers more of a voice in the operation of the JISC could improve outcomes.

Would you support third-party oversight of the JISC?

As currently run, third-party oversight of the JISC is necessary. We should also explore re-structuring the JISC in the manner that it has been successfully implemented such as in Miami-Dade County.

The JISC relies on support from the Department of Family and Support Services, a wing of city government that distributes millions of dollars in services each year that can decrease violence by supporting workforce development, homeless support and services for the formerly incarcerated. Would you direct DFSS dollars in a different manner?

This question relates back to the first two questions.  If the police continue to run the JISC it may not be the best place to invest DFSS dollars.  If the providers have a more direct role in administration, it may be a good place to invest DFSS dollars because it would provide an opportunity to invest in services for a juvenile at a crucial point in his or her life.

 As Mayor, I would work with juvenile justice stakeholders and the administration at DFSS to review data and any evaluation of the program to determine how to best leverage these dollars short and long term. I would note that those DFSS dollars must also be viewed through the broader lenses of identifying our resources, how we are spending those resources and what our return on investment is. Ultimately, we want that investment to yield lives saved, decreased involvement in the criminal justice system, a reduction in recidivism and improved emotional and social outcomes for our young people.

Preckwinkle

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