DANVILLE — Even kids who are incarcerated see the opportunity to enjoy some facet of the holidays.
The Juvenile Detention Center in Danville normally conducts school classes for the young people being held there. That changes once Christmas Eve and Christmas Day roll around each year.
Judy Hartshorn, director of the detention center, said young people at the detention center get a break from the classroom routine on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, getting a chance to watch movies, play various games — such as board games — as well as participate in different recreation activities in the facility’s gymnasium.
“We recognize few holidays,” she said, adding the juveniles are normally in school classes five days a week. “Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve are among the holidays that they do not have to go to class.”
The Juvenile Detention Center, located along Sager Street, has been open since March 2002. It and the nearby Public Safety Building jail are faced with how to handle the holidays for those both young and old who are incarcerated.
No special meals or other items are held at the county jail as part of the holidays.
The break from the normal routine is seen as a tool to work with the juveniles at the detention center.
“It encourages good behavior,” Hartshorn said. “They’re participation is contingent on good behavior.”
In addition to a break from the classroom work, the juvenile facility also breaks from the year-long procedure as far as visits are concerned. Hartshorn said the facility allows an additional half-hour visit so parents can see the juveniles on the holidays.
Normally juveniles are only allowed one half-hour visit with a parent per week under Illinois Department of Corrections policy.
“It just adds another opportunity,” she said.
For juvenile detention detainees, the Life Church in Danville provides a holiday meal. For a number of years now, Hartshorn said the church has purchased chicken dinners from Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken for both juveniles and the detention center staff on Christmas Eve.
The church also provides pizzas on New Year’s Eve for detainees and staff. The Rock Church has provided a number of games that the juveniles play during the holiday break.