Juvenile offenders may no longer automatically spend all their teenage years on parole. Betsy Clarke has several examples of problems with Illinois' parole system for youth. Like a kid who was trying to get his GED, but going to class meant he'd be out after curfew. Clarke, who's head of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, says that was considered a parole violation. She says unlike adults, who are on parole for a set period of time once they're released from prison, Illinois juveniles remain on parole until they're 21. As a result, she says:
"A good percentage of the kids that are out on parole end up getting yanked back into the facilities, because there's a feeling on the part of the parole officers that they violated a condition."
Clarke says it'd be one thing if the juveniles were getting services. But so much money and staff time are spent on the long parole terms, there's less left over to provide counseling and other support. She's part of an effort to change Illinois law so juveniles are on parole for a fixed period, between six months and a year.
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