Villa law will protect rights of youth in county-operated detention facilities

SPRINGFIELD – To support the rights of youth committed to county-operated juvenile detention facilities, State Senator Karina Villa championed a law that ensures youth in these facilities have someone to advocate on their behalf.

“Regardless of how these individuals came to be in the detention facilities, they are still young and in need of protection,” said Villa (D-West Chicago). “All people in a detention facility should be treated humanely and equally and deserve the chance for a better future — especially those who are minors.”

Under this law, the Office of Independent Juvenile Ombudsman will act as an ombudsman for and secure the rights of youth committed to county-operated juvenile detention facilities or the Department of Juvenile Justice. The ombudsman’s role is to ensure that the rights of youth within the county-operated juvenile detention facilities are fully observed and to assist in pursuing services for committed youth and their families.

The law defines county-operated juvenile detention facilities as any shelter care home, detention care home, or facility designated to detain youth that is not a police or other temporary law enforcement holding location.

“This law will make sure there will always be someone advocating for youth who are detained in the county facilities,” Villa said. “Just because someone has made a mistake does not mean we should give up on them. This law will fight for the children left behind in these detention facilities.”

Senate Bill 2197 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2025.