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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

IL juvenile justice group says lawsuit addresses years of abuse

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Monday, May 20, 2024   

A lawsuit filed this month against the Illinois Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice might help tip the scales for legislation pending in Springfield.

Through the suit, 95 men and women shared their stories of abuse by some staffers while housed in juvenile detention at the Illinois Youth Centers between 1996 and 2017, when some were as young as 14.

Elizabeth Clarke, founder and interim director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois, said an overhaul of the system is long overdue.

"Illinois has been trying to reform its youth justice system since 2005," Clarke pointed out. "This has been a very lengthy process, it has never been really wholeheartedly entered into, they've never had the complete autonomy from an adult correctional model. So, it's been bit by bit by bit."

She noted the institute is watching House Bill 4776, which would raise the minimum age for juvenile incarceration from 13 to 14. And House Bill 2347, now under consideration in the Senate, would raise the pretrial detention age from 10 to 13.

Clarke stressed she wants to see guarantees the Juvenile Justice Ombudsperson's office has access to all the resources it needs to process youth grievances against the department.

The lawsuit indicates officials were aware of the abuse, yet no action was taken to ensure the juveniles' protection. The Department of Juvenile Justice has said the alleged abuse took place under previous administrations.

Clarke believes the sexual abuse accusations reflect another layer of failure within the department. Her organization has long spoken out against solitary confinement for children.

"The fact is, we just have to make sure young children are not locked up in Illinois," Clarke asserted. "We have to do that. We have to protect our young children. And both the excessive use of solitary and this lawsuit documenting sexual abuse shows how important it is."

Last year, a U.S. Department of Justice report found the staff perpetrators of sexual harassment were either reprimanded or disciplined in 40% of incidents and discharged, terminated or denied contract renewal. The lawsuit seeks the maximum amount of $2 million for each defendant.

Disclosure: The Juvenile Justice Initiative contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Civic Engagement, Criminal Justice, and Juvenile Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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