R.J. v. Jones

Formerly R.J. v. Bishop

The ACLU of Illinois is seeking to improve conditions and services available to the young people confined at state-run juvenile justice facilities across Illinois. The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) confines approximately 750 youths. About three-quarters are African-American or Hispanic, and nearly all come from low-income families. IDJJ operates six secure facilities at locations throughout the state.

In September 2012, we filed a lawsuit against IDJJ on behalf of all confined youths, alleging unconstitutional conditions and services, including: inadequate education services; inadequate mental health services; and excessive use of solitary confinement. In December 2012, District Judge Kennelly approved a consent decree, and in April 2014, he approved a remedial plan. This plan requires IDJJ to provide youths with basic education, mental health, and other rehabilitative services. To advance this goal, the plan contains enforceable youth-to-staff ratios. It also requires the parties to negotiate new policies on myriad issues, and the Court to review and approve those policies.

Since then, we have been actively monitoring IDJJ’s obligations under the remedial plan. For example, in May 2015, the federal Court approved new IDJJ policies, which we negotiated with the IDJJ, regarding solitary confinement and handcuffs. They provide critical new limits and oversight for these dangerous and counter-therapeutic practices. For example, all youths in any form of confinement will be given the opportunity to leave their cells for at least eight hours per day, thus ending solitary confinement for youths detained in IDJJ facilities.