SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Violations of rights for incarcerated youth would be brought under more scrutiny under new legislation backed by state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, D-Chicago.
“A lack of oversight in our county-operated juvenile detention centers allows malpractice and abuse for our incarcerated youth, and it is past time that we bring more transparency, accountability, and visibility to this issue,” Gonzalez said. “This legislation will go far in making sure our youth have the same access to meaningful assistance, confidential communication as their adult counterparts.”
Gonzalez is sponsoring Senate Bill 2197, which appoints an ombudsman who would hear and investigate complaints by private citizens against other officials or government agencies in county-operated juvenile detention centers. Current law appoints an independent juvenile ombudsman within the Department of Juvenile Justice system, with Senate Bill 2197 covering more of the types of centers that Illinois youth are incarcerated in.
Gonzalez has made incarceration reform a key part of his legislative agenda. He sponsored House Bill 3755 which makes reentry programs for those who meet the qualifications easier to coordinate between sheriff’s offices and correctional facilities. Gonzalez helped pass House Bill 3235, creating job, voter registration and identification information more accessible to those on the path to reentry into their communities. Menstrual hygiene products will now be available free of charge to incarcerated women in Illinois under legislation passed by the representative (HB4218).
“While there are protections for those incarcerated in locations operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice, the same thing cannot be said for these county locations,” Gonzalez said. “It is not fair or right to these incarcerated youth that patterns of abuse, neglect and other wise mistreatment are going unreported and unsolved. We as a state have to do more to ensure equity across our incarceration and criminal justice system.”