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Teens press for changes at Audi Home.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Chicago Defender
by Kathy Chaney

The youth said the demonstration was about garnering respect and dignity for the
children for youngsters detained at the county’s temporary juvenile detention center.
The emphasize their point, the youth presented Stroger a box of girls and boys
underwear. The rally was intended to get community pressure on Stroger and the county’s
board to make the necessary changes to the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention
Center, commonly known as the Audi Home. The sought after changes provide a more stable
rehabilitation center, according to F.L.Y. (Fearless Leading by the Youth).

The Audi Home gives temporary shelter for children between 10 and 16 years old who are
awaiting a decision on their cases by the Juvenile Division of the Cook County Court.
There are 498 total beds at the facility. About 360 are occupied by Black boys and
another 39 occupied by Black girls. F.L.Y.’s 16-year-old spokesperson, Assia Baker,
alleged that there have not been janitors working in the detention center for at least
the past nine weeks and the residents have also been without clean underwear during
that time.

The youth held signs that read: “Children need freedom, not for guards to beat them”
and “Clean up the Audi Home now.” During the nearly 30-minute demonstration, two
14-year-old girls representing F.L.Y. and SWYC (Southwest Youth Collaborative), Nyelia
Long and Ladonna Coleman, gave the “donation” to an employee in the lobby of Stroger’s
office. Long and Coleman said the underwear was for Stroger to donate to the children
currently residing in the detention center. “They [residents] tell me it’s dirty and
they have rats, bad and rotten food, people treat them wrong…and do not care for them,”
15-year-old Ameria Mason said. The Audi Home has received widespread criticism from the
American Civil Liberties Union over the past eight years. The ACLU said the children
there did not receive proper health care and educational opportunities.

The organization also said detention center was overcrowded, filthy – with many
children left to repeatedly wash their underwear in the toilets. Supervision of the
Audi Home is administered by Stroger. Transfer of authority over the detention center
from Stroger to Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans has been proposed, according to
Patrick Blanchard, a county attorney. If approved, the transfer would go into effect
January 1, 2008. The Defender talked with a 15-year-old boy about his short stint at
the Audi Home. A firearm possession earned Lijorell Holimon a one-day stay at the
detention center. He said he and relative had an old, unloaded rifle and were standing
in a gangway on the side of a building when someone saw them and called the police.

“We weren’t doing anything with it or about to do anything with it. We saw it and were
just holding it,” Holimon said. The police carted Holimon off instead of his relative
because he was the one that was holding the rifle. “It was my first offense and I
didn’t have enough points that would have them keep me in there,” he said. Holimon
said, “When kids fight or talk while walking in line, the guards would punch them in
the chest and tell them to shut up or they would push them while they had handcuffs
on.” He said the children normally don’t complain about what goes on in there because
of fear and the ones that do step up are “sent back to their cells.”  Cleanliness is a
major issue 
Overwhelming majority of detained youth are Black

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