Archive for the ‘Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention’ category

Fact Sheet: Disproportionate Minority Contact 2013

November 3, 2015

The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission put together a helpful handout that underscores disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system at the national, state and county levels for calendar year 2013.

You can download the handout HERE.

National Statistics

Decision Points White Black All Other Minorities Total

Population at Risk







Arrests 811,500 400,700 37,300 1,249,500
Referrals 654,200 374,100 30,200 1,058,500
Diverted 195,200 81,000 7,600 283,900
Detention 121,600 93,000 7,000 221,600
Petitioned 338,600 227,200 17,000 582,800
Adjudicated 196,700 116,200 10,400 323,300
Probation 127,400 71,000 6,900 205,300
Placement 44,800 31,600 2,200 78,700
Transferred to Adult Court 2,100 1,800 100 4,000


Relative Rate Indices All Minorities (including Black) Black
Arrests 1.7 2.3
Referrals 1.1 1.2
Diversion 0.7 0.7
Detention 1.3 1.3
Petitioned 1.2 1.2
Adjudicated Delinquent 0.9 0.9
Probation 1.0 0.9
Placement 1.2 1.2
Transferred to Adult Court 1.3 1.3


Updated: A Conscious Chicagoan’s Guide to Youth Detention and Incarceration

May 14, 2014

% of incarcerated youth In 2012, we published a report to inform community members in Chicago about juvenile detention and incarceration (with a particular focus on Cook County). We conceived of this as a cheat sheet that would provide the most recent data about detention and incarceration in Illinois and Cook County that we could find.

Today, we are releasing an updated version of the “Conscious Chicagoan’s Guide to Youth Detention and Incarceration” that includes data mostly from 2012 & 2013. The data cover both the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) as well as the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

We are releasing the guide on the heels of our more comprehensive juvenile justice in Illinois data snapshot.

You can download our updated Conscious Chicagoan’s Guide to Youth Detention and Incarceration HERE (PDF).

New Data Snapshot: Juvenile Justice in Illinois

April 30, 2014

Today, we are releasing a new report that provides an overview of juvenile justice in Illinois. This is not a research report but is intended to offer a brief primer for those who want to better understand how many young people across the state come to the attention of the criminal punishment system.

Download the report HERE (PDF).

by Richard Ross (Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center)

by Richard Ross (Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center)

Detained Youth Longitudinal Study: Cook County JTDC

January 16, 2014

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) released “The Northwestern Juvenile Project: Overview.”

This bulletin, the first in OJJDP’s Beyond Detention series, provides an overview of the Northwestern Juvenile Project, the first large-scale, prospective longitudinal study of drug, alcohol, and psychiatric disorders in a diverse sample of juvenile detainees. This bulletin provides an overview of the project and presents information on its goals, sampling and interview methods, areas of measurement, and selected findings.

It focuses specifically on youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center so is of particular interest to us.

Here is a second bulletin based on the same data set that was released in December 2013.


More Memes…

October 25, 2013

These are terrific memes that were created by a volunteer named Sherry Long for us during the week of action against school pushout a few weeks ago.


DOC 4287 arrested

Cook County Juvenile Detention Center

Infographic: Cook County Detention Center Admissions (July 2012-June 2013)

September 1, 2013

Check out our new infographic. The graphic illustrates detention population data reported by the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) for the period starting on July 1, 2012 and ending on June 30, 2013.

New Paper: Alternatives to Youth Incarceration in Chicago

August 19, 2013


There is an urgent need to find constructive ways to respond to young people in conflict with the law. Research compellingly demonstrates that youth placed in juvenile detention centers compared to alternative interventions are much more likely to later spend significant time in prison (Aizer and Doyle, 2013). Juvenile and adult incarceration both create exorbitant financial and social costs (Petteruti, Velázquez, and Walsh, 2009). Incarceration of juveniles is harmful to young peoples’ development, education, families, communities, and their current and future socioeconomic status (Majd, 2011; Bickel, 2010). Furthermore, incarcerating youth is not effective at enhancing public safety (Butts & Evans, 2011; Petteruti, Velázquez, & Walsh, 2009).

In Chicago, a group of individuals and organizations are working to address the needs of young people who others have mostly given up on. Behind the headlines of gang violence, shootings, and despair, there is an untold and unheralded story of perseverance, tenacity, and hope in communities across the city. Every single day, there are individuals representing various community-based organizations in Chicago who are called to meet the needs of youth in conflict with the law. They do so with shockingly few resources, mostly out of the public eye, and always with a determination that all young people deserve love and support.

prison In the United States, over 2.2 million people are incarcerated in prisons and jails. To some, the country has become a “Prison Nation.” Young people have not escaped the historical trend of increasing criminalization. As a way to decrease the numbers of people behind bars, states have turned to alternatives to incarceration.

Today, Project NIA is pleased to release a paper written by Michelle VanNatta and Mariame Kaba which specifically addresses five programs in Chicago that provide alternatives to incarceration for young people charged with or convicted of crimes. Included in this exploration are issues of cost, effectiveness, capacity, and the needs of youth and organizations moving forward.

At their core, the interventions and programs that are highlighted in this paper privilege relationship-building above everything else. This will not be satisfying for those who seek a quick-fix to address the needs of youth in conflict with the law. The organizations and programs featured define success based on whether they have been able to connect young people with a person who will walk with them through a perilous road littered with pitfalls and danger.

These aren’t programs that operate from 9 to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. The staff don’t necessarily hold advanced degrees and most are paid at near minimum wage rates. When asked about their program budgets, most directors smile while suggesting that they made due with very limited funds. Most of the programs are housed in and/or run by faith-based institutions like churches.

In the end, we hope that those who read the paper will come away with a better understanding of the challenges and the promise of current “alternative to incarceration” programs in Chicago. As the value of these programs becomes clear, we also hope that funders and community members will direct more resources to them.

The paper can be downloaded HERE (PDF).

Special thanks to Matt DeMateo, Father Dave Kelly, Heidi Mueller, Cliff Nellis, Ethan Ucker for taking the time to talk with us about their work. Thanks also to our friend Caitlin Seidler for donating her time to design the paper.

Please direct any questions or comments about this paper to Michelle VanNatta and Mariame Kaba at

Also, Join us on September 26th for an event that addresses the issues raised in this paper. Space is very limited. We will not be accepting any walk-ins. You must pre-register. Information is HERE.

Finally, a few months ago, Leah Varjacques created a video story featuring two of the programs featured in the paper: Circles & Ciphers and Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation.

restoring hope from Leah Varjacques on Vimeo.

How Do We Stack Up in Illinois?

January 26, 2013


Community Justice Concept Paper by Cook County Juvenile Justice Task Force

September 28, 2012

The Cook County Juvenile Justice Task Force has just published an excellent new concept paper about closing the CCJTDC and reinvesting the funds into trauma informed and restorative community-based programming instead. The full paper can be downloaded HERE (PDF). Below is the executive summary of the paper.

Who has the power to make neighborhoods safe? In recent decades, American society has looked almost exclusively to the criminal justice system to improve neighborhood safety outcomes. Yet as violence in Cook County continues to rise, it is increasingly obvious that the criminal justice system is only a part of the answer. We desperately need a new paradigm for community and systems partnerships around peacemaking, violence prevention, and family supports. At the same time, we need to confront the racial and economic injustices that perpetuate youth violence in our county, injustices that are maintained in part through our juvenile justice system.

In Chicago especially, we need to support and develop community solutions that can put an end to the city’s longstanding youth violence epidemic. While our current juvenile justice system is full of remarkable professionals, the system itself is structurally incapable of dramatically reducing youth violence. When we acknowledge this structural limitation, many questions arise- How can we better share responsibility for neighborhood safety? What are best practices for reducing youth crime through true accountability and rehabilitation? How can we effectively reinvest our resources in those communities where youth violence is concentrated?

Focused exclusively on Cook County’s juvenile justice system, this concept paper offers a starting place for answering these questions. Written by the Cook County Juvenile Justice Task Force, it calls upon all available leaders to help usher in a fundamental shift in the ways we protect our communities, support our families, and guide our young people in trouble with the law. Rather than a centralized, systems-based approach focused almost exclusively on punishment, the paper calls for a restorative, neighborhood-based model that is focused on strengthening the ability of communities to protect and nurture themselves, thereby enhancing the violence prevention effects of our juvenile justice resources.

This concept paper advances three important claims that are outside the norm of most juvenile justice debates. First, it argues that the shift to neighborhood-based juvenile justice must be fully funded. Government bodies cannot look at community solutions simply as a cost savings measure. If they do, they are endangering their constituents and neglecting the visionary possibilities of our era. Visionary leadership requires reinvesting our juvenile justice resources into those communities with the greatest need. Any attempt to improve juvenile justice outcomes without making these robust, targeted reinvestments in our young people is destined to fail.

Second, this paper calls for dealing directly with both the systemic racism and the individual traumas that underlie so much of the violence we see in our city. Though often invisible, both racism and trauma are incredibly present in our social world, pervading homes and communities in ways that we rarely discuss, let alone address. As almost any experienced youth outreach worker will attest, young people who start hustling on the streets often do so to avoid abusive situations in their homes. Yet their search for safety frequently exposes them to gang recruitment and other forms of street violence, a fact that points to complex cycles of intergenerational trauma that are reinforced by inequitable neighborhood conditions. Though common sense to many frontline workers, this basic connection between the home, the street, and the neighborhood is almost never made in our broader public safety efforts. In order to reverse this trend, the paper calls for the development of holistic responses to widespread trauma and its wider spread effects, alongside a commitment to improving neighborhood conditions.

Finally, this paper outlines a proposal for community-driven restorative justice approaches to youth crime and conflict. The ‘Restorative Justice Hub’ model that we advance is intended to reawaken our programmatic imagination, enhancing the ways we support our most isolated young people while strengthening rather than further disenfranchising our communities.

Importantly, this model is directly informed by the latest science on childhood trauma and is designed as a strategy for helping people to move beyond the effects of adverse childhood experiences, guiding them towards sustainable healing and growth. Furthermore, the model of Restorative Hubs relies upon the maintenance and continued development of community-based supports for all of our youth, not just those who are easiest to serve through traditional programs.

Taken together, these three tenets can serve as the foundation for a neighborhood-based juvenile justice paradigm that enables communities and systems to work together on improving public safety outcomes. Each of these tenets builds on one another and all three are essential pillars of reducing youth violence and helping young people to claim their full potential. By raising these pillars up – creating fully-funded, trauma-informed, restorative community solutions to youth crime – Cook County will be at the cutting edge of juvenile justice in the United States and will serve as a powerful exemplar for other jurisdictions to follow. Most critically, Cook County cannot afford to delay these fundamental reforms any longer. Our public safety depends on it.

A Conscious Chicagoan’s Guide to Youth Detention and Incarceration

August 1, 2012

We have received some requests over the past few weeks for more updated information about youth incarceration in Illinois. In response, we decided to put together a publication that would update community members in Chicago about juvenile detention and incarceration (with a particular focus on Cook County). We think of this as a sort of cheat sheet that will provide you with the most recent data that we could access. The publication includes data from 2011 for both the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) as well as the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). We hope that this proves helpful to you. More importantly, we hope that it helps to mobilize you to take action in supporting juvenile justice reform in Illinois.

Click on this link to access the “Conscious Chicagoans Guide to Youth Detention & Incarceration” (PDF)