In his three decades working in juvenile probation services, Randy Macak of McLean County, Il., has developed his own system for measuring the success of youth who have contact – brief or extended – with the criminal justice system. “Recidivism is not the only measurement. Sometimes, you’ve bettered their lives in some way in the course of working with them. And that means they may have made another mistake, but they’ve also finished a GED,” said Macak, who is deputy director of the county’s juvenile court services, reports the Associated Press.
“Our officers take on the role of social workers,” said Macak, helping with everything from utility bills to issues at school. A probation officer with a caseload of 40 children also is dealing with 40 families. The goal, he said, is to keep youth out of the county’s juvenile detention center and in community-based services. In 2014, 183 youths between the ages of 10 and 17 were held in McLean County, a detention rate of 10.8 per 1,000 youths,. The state average is 8.8 percent per 1,000 youths. Elizabeth Clark, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, says ,“We believe juvenile detention is a broken system in Illinois and we want to find ways to improve things.” She maintains that the animal rights movement has seen more progress than what’s been accomplished for childrens’ rights.