Illinois’ youth prison system is violating the constitutional rights of inmates by failing to provide adequate mental health care and education and by unnecessarily keeping youths in solitary confinement, reports the Chicago Tribune. Three court-appointed experts, weighing in as part of a federal class-action lawsuit brought last year by the ACLU of Illinois, set the stage for negotiations between ACLU attorneys and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice on a plan to fix the shortcomings.
The experts found that there were too few mental health and security staff in the state’s prisons for juveniles, that some youths were being confined for 22 hours a day and that the education programs were “grossly inadequate.” In addition, the entire juvenile justice department doesn’t have a single psychiatrist specializing in children or adolescents on staff, they said. A state spokesman said the expert opinions were being reviewed. A separate report scheduled to be released Thursday found serious problems at the Kewanee youth prison, which houses mentally ill youths and those charged with sex crimes.