IYC-Joliet teen tries breakout
By Bob Okon email@example.com June 28, 2012 9:58PM
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:31AM
JOLIET — A youth attempted to break out of Illinois Youth Center-Joliet this week, creating more debate over the plan to close the facility.
The youth got trapped in razor wire fence that contributes to the prison-like appearance of IYC-Joliet that has come under some criticism by state officials preparing to close the facility on Oct. 31.
“It looks like a maximum security prison because it was built that way to keep violent offenders within those walls,” said Sharon Konopka, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1753 which represents workers at IYC-Joliet.
Konopka said the youth who tried to escape had been tried and convicted as an adult for aggravated battery with a firearm.
“It could have been a catastrophe if he got out,” Konopka said.
The escape attempt occurred Wednesday afternoon.
Konopka said the youth had “orchestrated a fight in order to distract the staff” before running, Konopka said. He made it over one inner wall before getting caught up on the second wall with razor wire.
According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, the youth was trapped on an interior wall and had yet to reach the last fence that surrounds the facility.
The youth had to be cut from the wire and was taken to Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Konopka and other union members at IYC-Joliet have argued that Gov. Pat Quinn has been too critical of Joliet for its prison-like appearance.
Although most youth centers are equipped with razor wire fencing, the state increasingly has emphasized community treatment and other rehabilitative measures for youth offenders. But IYC-Joliet houses some of the most hardened youth offenders in Illinois.
The Department of Juvenile Justice contends that it is well equipped to house youths moved out of Joliet.
“All staff in all IYC facilities are trained in preventing and mitigating escape attempts,” said Kendall Marlowe, spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Justice. “As in this case, our staff is prepared to respond to these situations.”
All but two of the state’s eight youth centers are equipped with razor wire fencing, Marlowe said.
The state plans to close IYC-Joliet and IYC-Murphysboro as budget-saving measures at a time that the juvenile inmate population is declining.