IYC-Kewanee (Kewanee) is a medium and maximum-security male juvenile facility located two and a half hours west of Chicago. Kewanee is the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s (IDJJ) special treatment facility for juvenile sex offenders and youth with the most acute mental illness, and now also provides housing for the maximum-security population. In addition, Kewanee is the only youth facility in the state that can provide 24-hour medical care to youth.

Read JHA’s 2013 report here. (PDF)

Vital Statistics
Population: 213 (Note as of 9/18/13 Population: 248)
Average age: 17.6
Average length of stay: Approx. 8 months
Average annual cost: $86,801.89
Population by Race: 33% White, 57% African American, 9% Hispanic, 0.5% American Indian, 0.5% Asian.
(Source: IDJJ 7/03/13)

Key Observations:

  • Although Kewanee is the facility that houses all male sex offenders and those male youth with the most intensive mental health treatment needs, IDJJ has not hired enough specialty staff to deliver the treatment needed to help rehabilitate those youth. In a repeat finding of its 2012 report on Kewanee, JHA found staffing levels so inadequate that it again urges county courts to stop committing boys with severe mental health needs to IDJJ.
  • IDJJ is authorized and budgeted to employ 17 mental health professionals but had only 10 on staff on the day of the JHA 2013 visit. This number is slightly reduced from the high number of vacant staff positions reported by JHA in December of 2012. IDJJ’s refusal or inability to fill all positions means youth held in Kewanee are denied a cumulative total of 262 hours of treatment per week.
  • The most significant change at Kewanee in the past year has been the addition of the maximum-security population previously held at IYC-Joliet, which closed in February 2013. The added population includes a significant number of Cook County youth who have been re-incarcerated because they have repeatedly violated their parole conditions or because they have been arrested while still on juvenile parole and are awaiting trial on an adult charge. As a result, more than half of Kewanee’s overall population on the day of JHA’s visit was composed of parole violators.
  • We remain deeply concerned that IDJJ has continued to concentrate its most difficult and needy youth in a facility that has historically struggled due to extremely limited resources, in a location that is hundreds of miles away from most of the youths’ homes, making consistent and meaningful family visitation and access to counsel almost impossible.
  • On the day of JHA’s 2013 visit, at least 14 youth remained in prison even though the Prisoner Review Board had approved their release. They are kept behind bars because the state has not identified an appropriate placement outside the prison. They will remain incarcerated until a home is found or the youth reach age 21.
  • JHA found that Kewanee’s administration and staff exhibited an exemplary dedication to youth and the rehabilitative mission of IDJJ, despite a critical lack of resources.

Read JHA’s 2013 report here. (PDF)
Read JHA's 2012 report here. (PDF)
Read JHA's 2011 report here. (PDF)

The John D. And Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s initiative, Models for Change, has funded the John Howard Association of Illinois (JHA) to monitor IDJJ’s facilities.