Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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:  

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


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

  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.

Grant youth prisons a divorce

Thursday, September 22, 2005
Chicago Tribune

Illinois' maximum security prison in Joliet for youths is a haunting place. Adolescents sit idle in dimly lit day rooms filled with jabbering TVs; a cage in the corner serves as a kind of threat to the unruly; there are echoes of thick iron doors slamming.

Mouth off to a guard, and you can get up to 30 days of isolation in a tiny cell. Education, recreation and psychological treatment have so dwindled in Illinois youth prisons they're now practically considered to be luxuries. Juveniles' guards receive no special training, so too many regard their charges as mere security risks.

There are a hundred reasons why radical change is needed within the state's juvenile prison system. Legislators this fall are expected to vote on a measure that would separate the juvenile prison system from the adult system, a necessary first step toward that reform.

Rehabilitation is a quaint notion abandoned long ago in Illinois youth corrections. Top prison officials admitted as much Tuesday during a House committee hearing about the separation measure. "Reality is, as states have found, when juvenile corrections is housed with adult corrections, it has resulted in a trend toward what's called `the adultification of juvenile justice,'" said Kurt Friedenauer, who oversees the juvenile division.

State Corrections Chief Roger E. Walker Jr. on Tuesday supported the idea of separating the juvenile department. "If we are going to change the juvenile system, this might be a good way to do that," he said.

Inmate figures help explain how the juvenile division gradually became an institutional afterthought. In 1988, the total corrections budget in Illinois was $410 million, and the number of adult inmates hovered at 21,000, while juveniles numbered about 1,200.

Today, the corrections budget is $1.2 billion. The adult population has exploded to 44,000 inmates, while the juvenile population is only slightly higher at 1,400, after a brief spike in the mid-1990s. The rising cost of adult incarceration has put a strain on the budget and has pushed the state's emphasis away from rehabilitating youthful offenders.

Cathryn Crawford, an attorney who represents minors in Illinois prisons, said one teen incarcerated at Joliet called her to ask if she could help get him a transfer to an adult prison because he heard he could take college courses there. "He told me, `I took my G.E.D., and there's nothing more for me to do here.'"

"These are exactly the kinds of conditions that prompted lawsuits elsewhere," said Betsy Clarke, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. In recent years, federal lawsuits have forced a handful of states to separate their juvenile prisons from their adult systems. Today, 40 states have separate systems.

This is not a popular idea with leaders of unions that represent Corrections Department employees. They argue it will create more bureaucracy and that they can start doing better by kids if they just have more money. Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more than money to change what has become a counterproductive, punitive culture in juvenile corrections. It's going to take a new start, a new mindset, and a separate department.


Recent Headlines

U.S. appeals judges: Go fight over lawsuits with Dorothy Brown in state court
Sunday, November 13, 2918
Chicago Sun-Times

She's been waiting 15 months for her rape kit to be processed. A new proposal to track evidence aims to change that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle to unveil policy roadmap for Cook County for next five years
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

COMMENTARY: Here's how the Shakman case curbed Cook County patronage
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Appeals court backs Dorothy Brown in lawsuit over public access to electronic records, says judge overstepped authority
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What’s Next As Voters Overwhelmingly Support Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time
Monday, November 12, 2018
Journal and Topics Online

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018

The Abandoned WWI Monument One Chicago Man Is Determined To Save
Friday, November 02, 2018
Chicago Patch

Cook County freed from federal oversight
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

First-of-its-kind trauma recovery center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018

Northbrook opts in to Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, more uncertainty for employers, lawyer says
Monday, October 29, 2018
Cook County Record

First-of-its-kind Advocate Trauma Recovery Center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
WLS Channel 7

Cook County sheriff, CVS team up on safe prescription painkiller disposal
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

HOPE Court, created to keep probationers out of prison, shut down amid problems
Friday, October 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Can Kaegi really reform the assessor's office?
Friday, October 26, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

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