PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Chief Judge Evans establishes committee to implement safety, education improvements for Juvenile Temporary Detention Center residents, following recommendations

Released On 08/23/2022

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans has established an implementation committee to work with the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) to implement recommendations of the Circuit Court of Cook County Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) designed to best help youth in detention.

 

These recommendations include:

- Continuing to keep JTDC safe and free from “solitary confinement” and to remove them from unnecessary isolation;

- Finding ways to further implement trauma-informed care for the youth that enhances their rehabilitation and re-entry capabilities;

- Continuing to upgrade educational services at the Nancy B. Jefferson School in the JTDC, to assure students get a “quality education that leads to marketable skills, both interpersonal and professional;”

- Working toward replacing the JTDC’s current, large physical structure with “smaller, community-based facilities with specialized programs.”

 

Chief Judge Evans reconvened the BRC in the spring of 2021 to address questions raised by a county advisory board as to whether the JTDC was subjecting youth to “solitary confinement.” Chief Judge Evans asked the BRC to address the question of “solitary confinement” and, “to examine procedures at the JTDC and figure out what is being done right and what can be done better.” In addition, Chief Judge Evans asked the BRC to identify “best practices” of other juvenile justice systems and detention centers that could serve as models for Cook County’s JTDC.

 

Dr. Gene Griffin, a clinical psychologist and expert on childhood trauma, chaired the committee. Speaking for himself “and supported by a majority of the BRC members,” Dr. Griffin found, among other things, that, “the JTDC does not use solitary confinement,” and “the JTDC meets its mandate to keep youth safe and in custody.” But, among other things, Dr. Griffin also wrote that, “the JTDC over relies on room confinement,” and that this over reliance is “isolating and deprivational” to the youth.

Leonard D. Dixon, Superintendent of the JTDC, has responded to the BRC recommendations by, among other things, agreeing that, “the JTDC does meet its mandate to keep youth safe and in custody,” and asserting it is, “committed to implement best practices” and “to continually revise… ways to reduce confinement while maintaining safety and security for residents and staff.”
 

Click here for the full Blue Ribbon Committee report and Superintendent Dixon’s response.
 

Those on the implementation committee include a team from Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, including Executive Director Bryan Samuels. Chapin Hall is a policy research center dedicated to improving the lives of children, families, and communities.

 

Also on the committee are representatives from the Office of the Chief Judge, including Dr. Miquel Lewis, Acting Director of Juvenile Probation and Court

Services; Dr. Beverly J. Butler, OCJ special assistant; and Camela Gardner, Labor and Employment Relations Counsel.

 

 

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