Formerly R.J. v. Bishop

The ACLU of Illinois brought this lawsuit 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) operates five secure facilities at locations throughout the state. About three-quarters are African-American or Hispanic, and nearly all come from low-income families. 

When the case was filed in September 2012, it alleged a wide array of  unconstitutional conditions and services, including: inadequate education services; inadequate mental health services; and excessive use of solitary confinement. At that time IDJJ held approximately 1,000 youth in custody.  Since then, under a court-supervised consent decree and remedial plan, services throughout IDJJ have improved significantly. IDJJ has instituted a host of new policies and made notable gains in basic education, mental health, and other rehabilitative services. Solitary confinement has been eliminated.

IDJJ’s population has dropped dramatically in the years since the lawsuit was filed; it now stands at barely 100. The Governor and IDJJ Director have announced plans to restructure the agency over the coming four years to eliminate its oversized, prison-like facilities and replace them with smaller, more residential settings closer to the communities from which youth in custody come, and to enhance services for youth in those communities to help keep youth out of custody to begin with. We look forward to working with the State to create this truly rehabilitative system.



Camille Bennett, Kevin Fee (ACLU of Illinois), Joe Dosch (Sidley Austin LLP)

Date filed

September 12, 2012


U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois


Hon. Matthew F. Kennelly


Active (under consent decree)

Case number