Construction to begin on center for youth in custody in Lincoln
LINCOLN (WAND-TV) - Governor J.B. Pritzker announced construction on a new Illinois Youth Center for youth in secure custody of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ).
“My administration’s landmark Rebuild Illinois Capital program isn’t just about roads and bridges—it’s about creating a better future for generations to come,” said Governor Pritzker. “The new Illinois Youth Center will serve our state’s most vulnerable youth—and it is exactly the kind of project we are proud to invest in. Youth in custody of the IDJJ deserve access to the spaces and resources they need to thrive in their own communities—and that’s what the Illinois Youth Center will provide.”
The new center, which was originally announced in February of 2021, will be located at the site of the former Lincoln Developmental Center.
“A system that is really based on developmental science and care for young people, but also a system that is more just- that is more truly just,” Heidi Mueller, Director of Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, told WAND News.
Two cottages for housing youth will be renovated with additional cottages for programming and administrative use. A new 27,000 square foot building will serve educational, recreational, and dietary needs.
“IDJJ is grateful to Governor Pritzker, Lt. Governor Stratton, and Rebuild Illinois for supporting IDJJ’s 21st Century Transformation through the restoration of the Lincoln Campus,” said Mueller.
This campus will be the first Illinois Youth Center designed in collaboration with IDJJ’s own young people and staff, and the first specifically designed to support trauma recovery, restorative justice and positive youth development. More importantly, the Lincoln Campus will ensure vulnerable young people from Central Illinois remain closer to their families and communities as they receive the treatment and support that they need,” she added.
The property at the Lincoln Developmental Center has been vacant since 2002 so upgrading mechanical, electric, plumbing, and fire protection systems will be necessary. New security systems will also be installed.
The Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) will oversee the design and construction of the Illinois Youth Center at Lincoln in accordance with the protocol for state-appropriated projects. Construction is set to be completed by summer 2024.
“Thanks to Rebuild Illinois, the Capital Development Board will transform the LDC site that has been deteriorating for two decades into an innovative and rehabilitative campus for vulnerable youth,” said the Capital Development Board Executive Director, Jim Underwood.
According to the state, more than 40% of youth who have been committed to IDJJ are from central Illinois but are housed at youth centers in the north and south. The Illinois Youth Center at Lincoln will serve the area and allow for more participation of families in the rehabilitative process.
“Lincoln’s geographic location makes it the perfect place for this facility,” said Lincoln Mayor, Tracy Welch. “Not only will the new Illinois Youth Center better serve those committed youth from central Illinois, and their families, by having them located closer to home, but it will also stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs, attracting new community members, and generating additional revenue for the city that can be used towards things such as road repairs and improved public services.”
Children detained in central Illinois will mostly still be held in the county youth detention center in Peoria. If a juvenile is adjudicated and remanded to DJJ custody, they will likely then be housed at the new Lincoln facility.
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