New Illinois Youth Center Announced for City of Lincoln

In accordance with the July announcement of the new 21st Century Illinois Transformation Model, and in partnership with the Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative (JEO), the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is moving forward with its new community-based, rehabilitative, and restorative model by bringing a new Illinois Youth Center to Lincoln, Illinois. While 40% of youth committed to IDJJ originate from the Central Illinois region, there is currently no secure facility in the region–making it impossible to house youth from Central Illinois near their families and communities of origin.

The new site is slated for the former Lincoln Development Center with architectural and engineering services for the renovation provided by Cordogan & Clark. The future IYC Lincoln will feature dormitory housing style units for up to 30 youth, programming and administrative areas, as well as, newly constructed educational, recreational, and dietary spaces.

“The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is moving forward with its transformative plan to reduce the harm of juvenile incarceration in Illinois. The new Illinois Youth Center Lincoln will be a bright, life affirming, trauma-informed, and restorative place for some of Illinois’ most vulnerable youth.”, said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “The thoughtfulness and transparency driving this plan is evidence of the love, careful consideration, and improved practices that the Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative envisions for all future juvenile justice reforms in the state.”

Newly appointed Senator Sally Turner is aware of the project and looking forward to gaining a better understanding of the project and how it will impact her constituents.

“I appreciate the leadership of the Pritzker Administration for being forward-thinking in transforming the lives of youth within the IDJJ system through an innovative model,” said Representative Tim Butler.  “Additionally, to have the State repurpose the Lincoln Developmental Center into a new facility is something many of us have supported for years.  This is both an investment in the juvenile population of our state as well as a commitment to a community that has a long track record of hosting successful state facilities.” 

“Central Illinois has been underserved by IDJJ. Youth from the region need a place near home so that IDJJ can work with their families to provide the support that they need to move forward and become productive citizens in their communities,” said Heidi Mueller, Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. “I am grateful that this administration has prioritized reforms that will bring restoration and investments to the youth, communities, and the state of Illinois.”

The official plans for the new facility in Lincoln were announced at the February 1 Lincoln City Council meeting. “As the Mayor of Lincoln, I was naturally excited to learn about the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s intention to locate a new Illinois Youth Center at the site of the former Lincoln Developmental Center. Lincoln’s geographic location makes it the perfect place for this facility,” said Tracy Welch, Acting Mayor of Lincoln. 

“Not only will the new Illinois Youth Central 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. 

“The City of Lincoln would like to thank the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for choosing this location and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure a safe, and successful, integration of this new youth center into our community.”

The 21st Century Illinois Transformation Model is a three-phase process designed to reduce the harm of incarceration, provide extensive rehabilitative and restorative support to youth within their communities, and keep youth in custody closer to home for more family engagement and seamless reintegration back into their communities.

The plan is currently in Phase I of implementation; focused on engaging external stakeholders, soliciting feedback, refining the plan, and renovating the former Lincoln Development Center. Phase II & III, slated to begin later this year, will continue the regional reinvestments and the official launch of the Department’s new Community Services Division. IDJJ’s Community Services Division focuses on providing youth with intensive, wraparound mentoring, educational, therapeutic, and vocational support within their communities as an alternative to incarceration where possible.

To learn more about the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s plan for Transformation, Click Here.