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Inmate Population Doubles at Local Youth Center

Written by Shannon Antinori

The inmate population at the St. Charles Illinois Youth Center has doubled since the Joliet IYC closed last year, leading to potential rights violations, according to a new report from an advocacy group.

The Daily Herald reports that the John Howard Association of Illinois, a non-partisan prison watchdog group, said staffing levels at the St. Charles IYC create a situation that "potentially violates youths' constitutional right to receive an education and adequate mental health treatment." JHA's report was issued Tuesday.

The report cites problems with access to education at St. Charles, stating the facility requires twice as many teachers as it currently has. Staffing levels for counselors and security at the center are also inadequate, according to the findings.

According to the Daily Herald, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has issued a written response to the report, saying it is trying to fill staff vacancies "as quickly as possible" and working outside experts to identify areas of improvement at St. Charles.

"The IDJJ is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment to help our youth successfully reintegrate into their communities," the statement reads. "The department's goal is to ensure youth become productive citizens, and we are closely reviewing the issues raised in the report. The department is currently assessing staffing levels and program needs at IYC St. Charles."

The 344-bed Joliet facility closed in February 2013 as a cost-cutting move by Gov. Pat Quinn. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Joliet IYC had one of the highest number of sexual assaults in the country.

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