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Improving Illinois' Response to Sexual Offenses Committed by Youth: Recommendations for Law, Policy, and Practice

While this report comments on issues related to youth who sexually offend in Illinois, its recommendations are applicable to any state. “The increased availability of high-quality, reliable, youth-specific research findings presents an exceptional opportunity to align law and practice with expert consensus about best practices for responding to youth sex offenses. Most importantly, research over the last few decades has conclusively established that youth are highly amenable to treatment and highly unlikely to sexually reoffend.

Research also indicates that strategies used with adults-principally sex offender registries and residency/employment restrictions-are not only unnecessary as applied to youth, but also counterproductive, as they often jeopardize victim confidentiality and can interfere with youth rehabilitation to an extent that undermines the long-term safety and well-being of our communities. In recognition of this research and the vital need to identify evidence-based best practices with regard to this very serious issue, the General Assembly charged the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission with making recommendations to ensure the effective treatment and supervision of youth who are adjudicated delinquent for a sex offense” (p. 6). While some of Illinois’ practices related to sex offending by youth are based on “what works” research, some are not.

Thus, the Commission has made three recommendations to align law, policy, and practice with research on effective interventions for juvenile sex offenders:

  • Recommendation 1--Develop and implement professional best practice standards and provide current, objective, and evidence-informed training for professionals who work with youth offenders and victims of sexual abuse;
  • Recommendation 2--Equip courts and communities to intervene effectively with individualized, community-based, family-focused services and supervision; and
  • Recommendation 3--Remove young people from the state’s counter-productive sex offender registry and the categorical application of restrictions and collateral consequences.

This website provides access to: the full report (150 pages); the report without Appendices (61 pages); the Executive Summary; the Fact Sheet; the Press Release; and audio from the March 25, 2014 Report Release Conference Call.