State Demographics

In 1996, Illinois' youth population under age 18 was approximately 3,155,900 (Casey Foundation 1998).

Of the State's children, approximately 10 percent were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level in 1995. Further, it is estimated that in 1995, approximately 17 percent of Illinois' children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).

Illinois ranked 33rd in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. This same year, the birth rate in the State was approximately 38 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This was up from 32 births per 1,000 young women in 1985 (Casey Foundation 1998).

Overview of the Juvenile Justice System

All delinquency petitions for youth in Illinois are handled by Juvenile Court. This may or may not result in an adjudication hearing. Sometimes this hearing can be bypassed, and the juvenile is placed on court supervision for up to 24 months. This supervision is handled by the probation department. If a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, he or she may be placed on probation whereby the juvenile is supervised and monitored by the county probation department (Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission 1995a, pp. 3-4).

For juveniles under age 13, the Department of Health Services (DHS) is responsible for ensuring public safety and providing adequate and appropriate services for juvenile offenders. For this purpose, DHS funds a variety of prevention and intervention programs throughout the State (Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission 1995a, pp. 5-6). The State's Formula Grants Program is housed within the State Department of Human Services, Youth Services, and Delinquency Prevention Bureau.

The State has 16 county juvenile detention centers with a total of 856 beds. The State Department of Corrections Juvenile Division provides long-term custody placements for juveniles 13-17 years of age (Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission 1995a, pp. 6-7).

Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders

The following statistics give an overview of the information available on female offending and processing patterns in Illinois. Note that the juvenile crime analysis provided in Illinois's three-year comprehensive State plan for 1994-96 and in annual plan amendments does not provide data broken down by gender.

  • In 1992, young women represented 12 percent (1,447) of all youth admitted to detention and 5 percent (341) of the youth committed (Poe-Yamagata and Butts 1996, p. 19).

Approach to Female Offenders

To collect information on the characteristics and needs of the State's juvenile female offender population, Illinois has contracted with the University of Illinois in Chicago and Springfield to complete a research study of this population. Specifically, the State will examine young women outside of the Cook County area, and the report will address the following areas: characteristics of the juvenile female offender population, including the offenses committed; whether juvenile female offenders are spending more or less time in detention as compared with their male counterparts; whether female juvenile offenders held in detention are subjected to "unreasonable testing"; whether there is a need for increased dispositional options for female juvenile offenders; the treatment of female delinquents by law enforcement authorities; the services currently available to female juvenile offenders including mental and physical health services, sexual abuse counseling, parenting skills classes, and general education opportunities; and the treatment of juvenile female offenders at every stage of the juvenile justice system as compared with their male counterparts (Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission 1995b).


Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Data Service. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Department of Children and Family Services. 1995a. Illinois Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 1995 Plan Amendment. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Department of Children and Family Services. 1995b. Illinois 1995 Challenge Activity E Grant Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Poe-Yamagata, E., and J.A. Butts. 1996. Female Offenders in the Juvenile Justice System: Statistics Summary. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.

Juvenile Female Offenders: A Status of the States Report October 1998