The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the Juvenile Intervention and Support Center (JISC). JISC is a partnership between the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Department of Family and Support Service (DFSS) implemented to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system. The objectives of this audit were to determine if JISC is designed according to best practices for law enforcement-based youth diversion and if JISC’s administration of diversion programming is consistent with its goal of reducing youth recidivism.
OIG concluded that, due to poor record-keeping and a lack of collaboration, program partners CPD and DFSS cannot reliably determine whether JISC is meeting its stated goal of reducing recidivism. As a result, the City cannot determine if it is creating positive or negative outcomes for the over 3,000 youth it processes each year, nor calculate the return on its over $5 million annual investment in the program. Additionally, some components of JISC’s design do not align with best practices for youth diversion programs.
Our recommendations focus on improving JISC’s multidisciplinary strategy, record-keeping, and data quality procedures in order to allow for proper review of the program. We also recommend bringing JISC’s design into alignment with diversion program best practices—in particular, to apply a more trauma-informed approach—and implementing proper controls and review mechanisms to prevent inconsistent and inequitable outcomes for youth.
In response, CPD and DFSS said they mostly agree with the recommendations. However, CPD did not confirm whether it intended to notify the Local Records Commission of its failure to retain JISC risk screening forms per the Local Records Act. Both departments responded that they have begun to implement corrective actions. They report that these changes, including establishing shared goals and improving policies and procedures, will help JISC align with best practices and accomplish its intended goal of reducing youth recidivism.