Just as the Illinois State Senate has voted to treat all 17-year-olds as juveniles in court proceedings, one-third of teaching staff positions have been slashed at the Illinois Youth Camp in Harrisburg.
According to AFSCME, children at the Harrisburg facility will not be able to receive a high school diploma because the curriculum will no longer exist when these teachers are terminated on June 30.
But according to John Maki, executive director of the prison watchdog group the John Howard Association, to not provide the juvenile offenders with the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or GED would be illegal.
Maki says his group is looking into the situation. He also noted Harrisburg in the only youth corrections facility in the state to provide a secondary education to its offenders, but that now appears to be over. He says the elimination of classes for the youth is unfortunate, as they will now only be sitting around the facility without distractions or opportunities to improve their situation.
The Department of Juvenile Justice made the decision not to extend the vocational classes for the children at Harrisburg.
Since the closure of the Murphysboro facility, Harrisburg is the only juvenile facility in southern Illinois for youth who have been sentenced to incarceration.