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Quick transfer for juvenile center?
Officials hope to shift authority to judge in weeks

Saturday, June 16, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter

Cook County government wants to speed up an effort to replace itself as the overseer of a troubled youth detention center and transfer authority to Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans.
Cook County attorney Patrick Blanchard said Friday the county wants to shift oversight of its Juvenile Detention Center from the County Board president to the judge in the next few weeks. Blanchard said the transfer could happen through a county resolution.
He expected to file court papers by late Friday, suggesting the expedited transfer in an ongoing federal court case that aims to fix problems at the facility.
Current legislation awaiting the governor's signature would already make such a transfer. But it wouldn't go into effect until Jan. 1, 2008, Blanchard said.
"We believe that, assessing all the circumstances, this is the best solution as we look ahead," Blanchard said. "It would put Cook County in line with every other juvenile detention center."
Such a move doesn't go far enough for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has called for an independent party to immediately take control of the center after a series of allegations emerged of filthy conditions and abusive staff.
Child with noose
ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said an outside expert with experience in juvenile facilities should take immediate control of the facility to turn it around.
The ACLU's push to take the center out of the county's hands came after an advocate learned in May that no apparent follow-up care was given to a child who had urinated in his cell and was found with a noose around his neck.
"It just doesn't begin to address the serious questions that exist at the facility," Yohnka said. "You need an independent person with authority to make changes -- to hire and fire people, to discipline people who have been accused of abusing kids -- and really to clean the place up.
"The bottom line to this is four years ago, the county promised they'd make changes they didn't."


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