The state of Illinois plans to shutter its youth correctional center in Kewanee.
"We considered many factors in arriving at this conclusion, including: national best practices; optimal youth outcomes; ongoing challenges at the facility as highlighted by court-appointed juvenile justice experts and costs to the state," said Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) Director Candice Jones said in a statement. "This decision is about transitioning Illinois to a new model of rehabilitating youth that aligns with national best practices and improves community safety."
The ACLU of Illinois welcomed news of the facility's planned closure.
"With the decision to move youth out of Kewanee, we are hopeful that the IDJJ will now have more resources to improve services and conditions for young people at the remaining five ... [IDJJ] facilities, and to provide necessary services to youth offenders in their own communities," reads the ACLU's statement. "We hope that this is just the first announcement regarding the closing of a youth detention facility, and that we can move to a day when Illinois detains fewer juveniles in far-flung parts of the state."
Employees at the Kewanee youth center, which opened in 2001, were "blindsighted" by the closure announcement, AFSCME Council 31 spokesman Anders Lindall told the Associated Press. He added that the facility recently received expensive security enhancements in order to house offenders from the Illinois youth center in Joliet that shut down in 2013.