Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



Juvenile center chided on reform
Staffing problems continue, report says

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Chicago Tribune
by Ofelia Casillas

Despite encouraging changes in leadership, reform has not trickled down to frontline workers at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, according to a new report by a prisoner advocacy group.

During a late August visit, observers from the John Howard Association of Illinois found that the controversial center suffers from a shortage of counselors--especially good counselors, the group concluded in a report for release Wednesday.

"Safety for children will remain an issue until the culture, standard of care and lack of professionalism that prevailed among some staff for a number of years is completely eliminated," the report warns.

J.W. Fairman, the center's interim superintendent since Aug. 1, acknowledged that problems continue, but he said change takes time.

"It takes time to get everybody on the same page when you are taking over the operation of a troubled institution," Fairman said. "As long as progress is being made, I'm happy about it. Is the administration satisfied? No, but we are happy that there is movement."

Last year, the Tribune and other news media reported that former residents alleged they had been involved in violence at the center, some at the hands of staff members.

In September, a federal grand jury issued subpoenas demanding photographs, internal reports and other documents in a growing criminal investigation into alleged violence and abuse.

Benjamin Wolf, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was important to remember that new leaders were only recently assigned to their positions.

"It is a difficult change process, and I don't think we've done it yet," Wolf said. "But I think it is true that we remain concerned about the safety of the children and about the behavior of some staff."

John Howard advocates applauded improvements like the addition of two-way radios on living units, a crackdown on contraband and plans to better acclimate new residents when they arrive.

Still, advocates said staffing levels fell short of optimal among floor managers, supervisors, detention counselors and caseworkers. And the quality of some detention counselors continued to worry advocates, who called for disciplining or discharging counselors who mishandle residents.

On a more mundane level, the observers noted that some counselors interact little with the teenagers in their care, spending their time eating or doing paperwork.

"Our visitors were, as in the past, concerned about the dedication, interest and suitability of some of the line staff," the report said.

The John Howard observers reported five incidents during three weeks in which staff members were alleged to have injured children.

A girl told advocates that staff members threw her down on concrete, causing swelling to the side of her face, the report said.

Other children said they got nosebleeds or head contusions while being restrained by staffers. Another child said a staff member trying to break up a fight accidentally struck him.

"The detention center's medical unit records show continuing allegations by children of injuries caused by staff, with some injuries verified by medical observation," the report found.

Cook County Commissioner Forrest Claypool, who has advocated for reforms at the center, said the report calls for radical change.

"This report underscores the need for a house cleaning throughout the senior management and more aggressive steps to fix this troubled institution," Claypool said.

County Commissioner Mike Quigley questioned whether the John Howard Association was going far enough in its criticisms, saying the group had "overstayed their welcome in terms of really being helpful.

"In the end this place does not make a turnaround until the whole culture is changed through putting professionals in place, taking politics out of it and letting them run this facility appropriately," Quigley said.

County Board President Bobbie Steele applauded the report and said that it shows management changes are contributing to progress.

The ACLU originally filed a federal suit on behalf of center residents in 1999 but settled nearly four years ago when the county agreed to improve conditions. Dissatisfied with the results, ACLU attorneys went back to court in 2005 and have been battling with county lawyers in court ever since.

U.S. District Judge John Nordberg has chastised county officials for failing to address repeated reports of violence against residents.

In June, Nordberg appointed Brenda Welch as compliance administrator for the detention facility, giving her the duty of implementing the recommendations of a four-member panel charged with improving the center.

Welch's memos, reported in the Tribune, portrayed continuing problems with hygiene and safety among the juveniles at the center.

In the next few weeks, a plan drafted by independent experts to make additional improvements at the detention center is expected to be completed and submitted to a federal judge, Wolf said.



Recent Headlines

While detainees sit, Cook County bail reform drags on
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Morning Spin: Dorothy Brown contract stalls amid accusations of 'potential half-truths'
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Chicago Tribune

South Austin man charged in shooting near Cook County courthouse
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Man wounded in hail of gunfire outside Cook County courthouse
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Des Plaines Mayor Says Compost Proposal On Dump Site Will Be Delayed
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Journal Online

Man wounded in hail of gunfire outside Cook County courthouse
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Ensuring Earlier Access to Attorneys for Arrestees in Chicago
Monday, March 20, 2017
wttw Chicago Tonight

Officials: Glencoe, Forest Preserve District close to finalizing golf club land use agreement
Friday, March 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune

The mysterious case of Philippe Loizon and $200,000 charged to Cook County taxpayers
Friday, March 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune

6 Ways the Republicansí Proposed Health Care Bill Could Impact Cook County
Friday, March 17, 2017
Chicago Magazine

Cook County Board Lobbying Activity Dropped In 2016
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The Daily Line

River Forest opts out of Cook County minimum wage, sick leave rules
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Clerk Orr: Sugary drink tax, ridesharing tax ordinance were focus of Cook County lobbying activity in 2016
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Board Lobbying Activity Dropped In 2016
Thursday, March 16, 2017
Daily Line

Kim Foxx planning to revamp Cook County wrongful-conviction unit
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Sheriff dropped from lawsuit challenging bail; focus now on Cook County judges
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Injustice Watch

Cook County Pushing To Make It Easier To Expunge Juvenile Records
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
WBEZ

Making it easier to get juvenile arrest records expunged
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Daily Northwestern

Cook County Jail Is Being Dropped From Lawsuit Against Jail
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
US News and World Report

Still radical at 75, Bernardine Dohrn says turn Cook County Jail into park
Monday, March 13, 2017
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP