WBEZ | DJJ http://www.wbez.org/tags/djj Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Arthur Bishop named new head of Illinois DCFS http://www.wbez.org/news/arthur-bishop-named-new-head-illinois-dcfs-109572 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bishop.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois&rsquo; child welfare department has a new director.</p><p>Arthur Bishop has been in charge of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency that oversees the state&rsquo;s prisons for young people.</p><p>Now he&rsquo;ll run the Department of Children and Family Services, which is tasked with protecting children who are wards of the state and working with families who need help with their children.</p><p>In a statement, Gov. Pat Quinn touts Bishop&rsquo;s long career working with families.</p><p>&ldquo;I am confident that he will carry out the mission of the department by making the safety and well-being of children across the state priority number one,&rdquo; Quinn said.</p><p>Bishop worked for DCFS beginning in the 1990s before he became the director of the juvenile prisons in 2010. Quinn said that during Bishop&rsquo;s time at DJJ, the population of the youth prisons has dropped to below 900. In the years just prior, the youth prison population had been closer to 1,500.</p><p>Bishop succeeds Richard Calica, who had resigned from DCFS shortly before he died from an illness in December. Calica&rsquo;s chief-of-staff, Denise Gonzales, has been the acting director since Calica resigned.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/arthur-bishop-named-new-head-illinois-dcfs-109572 Illinois lawmakers looking at high incidence of sexual abuse in youth prisons http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmakers-looking-high-incidence-sexual-abuse-youth-prisons-108238 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IYC Chicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois state legislators are considering reforms to the youth prison system to address sexual abuse that was brought to light in a recent federal study.&nbsp; The study by the bureau of justice statistics found that more than 15 percent of kids in custody reported being victims of sexual abuse. It&rsquo;s one of the highest rates in the nation and the report is giving advocates new ammunition to push changes they&rsquo;ve wanted for a long time.</p><p>They pushed those changes at a hearing Tuesday held by state legislators in Chicago. Lisa Jacobs with the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission told lawmakers there must be a better grievance process in the Department of Juvenile Justice so kids can lodge complaints without fear of retaliation. She says an inspector general should be appointed to investigate complaints and an ombudsman should be within the facilities taking kids&#39; complaints before they turn into major problems.</p><p>Jacobs says there needs to be more transparency all around. &ldquo;Watchdog access, family access is a big theme that we&rsquo;ve been talking about, an ombudsman, we need to know what happens in these facilities,&rdquo; said Jacobs.</p><p>Arthur Bishop, the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, told lawmakers that he fully supports the creation of an ombudsman position.</p><p>Julie Biehl with the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern Law School told lawmakers that kids need to have attorneys during incarceration.&nbsp; She says when kids have parole hearings they often don&rsquo;t know what&rsquo;s going on and they don&rsquo;t represent themselves well. &nbsp;That causes longer stays, perhaps unnecessarily long. She says that over-incarceration costs the state a lot of money.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important for youth to have an advocate, someone they can trust, someone [whose] sole job is to zealously represent their interests,&rdquo; said Biehl.</p><p>Biehl has been pushing this idea for several years but says the recent report on sexual abuse gives her proposal added urgency. She says attorneys for incarcerated kids could help prevent sexual abuse because kids would have an independent, confidential person to report the abuse to, hopefully stopping it early.</p></p> Tue, 30 Jul 2013 18:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-lawmakers-looking-high-incidence-sexual-abuse-youth-prisons-108238 Experts say Illinois youth prisons need independent ombudsman http://www.wbez.org/news/experts-say-illinois-youth-prisons-need-independent-ombudsman-107629 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chi.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission says Gov. Pat Quinn must act quickly to protect kids in the state&rsquo;s youth prisons.</p><p>Retired Judge George Timberlake says incarcerated youth need to be able to complain safely to an independent government employee.</p><p>&ldquo;When we created the Department of Juvenile Justice, one of the fundamental ideas was an ombudsman, and that didn&rsquo;t happen. So that&rsquo;s something that can be almost immediately created,&rdquo; Timberlake said.</p><p>Timberlake called for the governor to act after a recent federal report found that Illinois was among the worst states in the nation when it comes to reports by young people of sexual victimization..</p><p>According to the report, based on surveys collected from inmates last year, about 15 percent of kids in Illinois youth prisons reported being sexually victimized while inside.</p><p>Nationally the average was about 10 percent.</p><p>In an emailed statement, a spokesman for Gov. Quinn wrote that &ldquo;a comprehensive top-to-bottom review of the agency and its procedures has been ordered.&rdquo;</p><p>That review will include an outside expert visiting every youth prison and interviewing incarcerated youth.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the key issues to be included in the comprehensive evaluation is the creation of an independent oversight body or ombudsman for investigations into allegations of abuse,&rdquo; according to the statement.</p><p>But Timberlake says the governor shouldn&rsquo;t wait for recommendations from outside experts, he should deploy an ombudsman now.</p><p>Timberlake and other juvenile justice advocates say an ombudsman would help fix a grievance process that right now forces kids in youth prisons to file complaints with the prison&rsquo;s leadership.</p><p>John Maki, head of the prison watchdog John Howard Association, says that essentially means incarcerated youth are forced to &ldquo;complain about the guards to the guards.&rdquo;</p><p>Department of Juvenile Justice Director Arthur Bishop called the report&rsquo;s findings serious and disturbing and said he is taking immediate action.</p><p>That includes creating a 24-hour hotline for youth to call with concerns, and a youth commission that will help advise him.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to make sure that our youth are safe and make sure that our youth have a voice, and that&rsquo;s very important that we find out where was the voice of the youth?&rdquo; Bishop said.</p><p>Jennifer Florent, a department&rsquo;s spokeswoman, wrote in an email that &ldquo;the creation of an ombudsman is one of the items that we will be discussing with the experts.&rdquo;</p><p>At the end of the day Monday, Florent said experts for the new panel DJJ is creating had not yet been confirmed,&nbsp; so she could not provide names to WBEZ.</p><p>Maki says prisons are ripe for the kind of sexual abuse identified in the report, and one way to prevent sexual victimization from happening is to allow an outside group or individual unfettered access to youth prisons and the kids inside them.</p><p><em>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 07:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/experts-say-illinois-youth-prisons-need-independent-ombudsman-107629 Youth prison's suicide-watch cells still lack suicide-proof beds http://www.wbez.org/story/youth-prisons-suicide-watch-cells-still-lack-suicide-proof-beds-91805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-12/cityroom_20100316_rwildeboer_624983_Insi_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>A youth prison in the Chicago suburbs still does not have suicide-proof beds in all its rooms, including those where kids on suicide watch are kept. This comes two years after a young man incarcerated at the St. Charles facility killed himself.</p><p>Some of the rooms at St. Charles already have what are called "safety beds," specifically designed to prevent their use in suicides. But not in the confinement cells, where kids go when they're put on suicide watch.</p><p>Prison watchdog John Howard Association warned about this in July, calling it "absolutely unacceptable."</p><p>The state's Department of Juvenile Justice noted at the time that a contractor's bid had been accepted for new beds, and the director said he hoped to have them all installed "within the next month or so."</p><p>Two months later, those beds are still not installed in those rooms used for suicide watch, according to department spokesman Kendall Marlowe.</p><p>Marlowe notes that getting the suicide-proof furniture takes time, as it is made of custom-molded plastic. He says remodeling work has begun at St. Charles, and "anticipates" installation of safety furniture will be completed at all juvenile justice facilities by the end of this year.</p></p> Mon, 12 Sep 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/youth-prisons-suicide-watch-cells-still-lack-suicide-proof-beds-91805 Inside and Out: Marcus' year of trouble and surprises http://www.wbez.org/story/inside-and-out-marcus-year-trouble-and-surprises <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Maura Smith Photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Today we're checking back&nbsp; with a talented, charismatic young man we met a year ago as part of our series on juvenile justice, <em>Inside and Out</em>.&nbsp; At the time Marcus was struggling to graduate from 8th grade after becoming involved with a gang. He kept getting suspended from school. We're using a pseudonym to protect his identity. Marcus said he didn't want the gang life anymore,&nbsp; but the constant suspensions seemed to be pushing him in that direction.&nbsp;</p><p>"I like being in school. I like learning stuff new.&nbsp; If you want me out of your school so bad why you just won't let me do what I got to do and get up out you all school the right way.&nbsp; I will walk across the stage.&nbsp; I will wave politely at you all good-bye, " he said.</p><p>Marcus never did walk across that stage. It's been a year of trouble and surprises.<br> <br> At 14 years old, Marcus started 2010 running from the law.<br> <br> He was on probation but wasn't living at home, a violation of his curfew every night if nothing else.<br> <br> He was living with his girlfriend on Chicago's Southeast side.<br> <br> On a morning in early February her mother asked him to get some milk and cereal from the store and on the way he bumped into a friend.<br> <br> MARCUS: At that time I didn't know he had a gun but as we walking he like I got the slam on me.<br> <br> WILDEBOER: You know that that's trouble, right?<br> <br> MARCUS: I know how it is around there personally so I can't just tell him like, go put that gun up because I be telling him like, go put your life in danger.&nbsp; If you ain't got a gun and somebody walk up on you and they catch you slippin' as we say, they gonna shoot and they ain't gonna miss and they ain't gonna try to miss.<br> <br> When they got to the store Marcus was getting the cereal and milk and sure enough, someone did walk up, a rival gang member of Marcus's friend.<br> <br> MARCUS:&nbsp; He said he was gonna kill my friend so my friend just, he upped the gun, he cocked it back and just got to shooting at him.&nbsp; I ran to the back of the store, hid in a closet.&nbsp; When I came out the police was in there, they was all in there.<br> <br> Marcus was taken in to custody.&nbsp;<br> <br> When I talked to him in the jail in early March, he was angry.<br> <br> MARCUS: I been trying to call my momma and tell her to come visit me so we can talk but hey, she don't wanna come.<br> <br> Marcus wants nothing more than a relationship where he and his mom talk.<br> <br> He's a fourteen year-old gang-member, or if not a member, he's certainly gang-involved, but when he talks about his mom, you remember, in many ways, he's still just a boy.<br> <br> MARCUS: My momma, she was telling me, we was gonna get it right.&nbsp; She was going to start talking to me then I think that would be better with our relationship but her not doing that is causing a big problem.<br> <br> It's a problem because when they don't talk fights end up exploding and she kicks him out of the house.<br> <br> GARCIA: After we learned that she had put him out we really had no other option but to withdraw the violation of probation because if she's not going to allow him to reside there, we can't fault him for not being home.<br> <br> Randy Garcia is Marcus's probation officer.<br> <br> He says he expects Marcus will be released at his court date on Friday but when the court date arrives his mom doesn't show up.<br> <br> She doesn't want him back at home yet.<br> <br> Marcus's dad, who's been absent most of his life, does show up and he's willing to let Marcus live with him.<br> <br> So Garcia calls Marcus' mom to get the okay because she's the legal guardian, but she refuses.<br> <br> It means Marcus won't be able to leave jail today.<br> <br> And it exposes an old rift in the family.<br> <br> GRANDMA: We can't do nothing without her.&nbsp; She tell them to keep him in jail, you know they'll keep him in jail.&nbsp; She have the last say so.<br> <br> That's Marcus' grandmother on his father's side.<br> <br> Marcus often stays at her house when his mom kicks him out.<br> <br> In fact she tried to get custody of him when his mom and her boyfriend used to beat him with an extension cord.<br> <br> GRANDMA: I told him, I said look, don't never let them whoop you naked with no extension cord.&nbsp; If you have to run out the house naked or anything, leave out and hop on the bus and get over here, and that's what he did.&nbsp; He ran out of the house in his underclothes and that's when the people picked him up on the street.<br> <br> Marcus's mom went to jail for that beating.<br> <br> She does show up for the next hearing and takes him home.<br> <br> The probation department arranged for a therapist to visit with the family in their home but Marcus' mom didn't show for the sessions.<br> <br> But it's not that she doesn't care at all.<br> <br> She's just busy.<br> <br> She is providing for four kids and a grandchild by working at a Popeye's Chicken in the suburbs, but the upshot is that they didn't get any therapy.<br> <br> Marcus ended up spending most of the year locked up.<br> <br> Probation officer Garcia tries to list off the new cases.<br> <br> For starters fingerprint results started coming back on old residential burglaries Marcus had committed.<br> <br> GARCIA: Then there was also the burglary to the auto, he'd stolen from his mother, he had taken her debit cards.&nbsp; That was a felony theft, the aggravated battery, the other residential burglary around the corner, so I mean that's four cases.<br> <br> Garcia says Marcus had a record number of cases and yet somehow, he always seemed to get an extra lifeline.<br> <br> GARCIA: He's got a way with people that not many kids do.&nbsp; He's very intelligent, I mean in custody he writes books of poetry and he calls non-stop, my office, his public defender and so by the time you're in court it's almost like you can't help but you know grow a little sympathetic.<br> <br> As a probation officer, Garcia isn't just trying to bust kids when they screw up.<br> <br> He really wants to help, but by fall, Garcia says he and the attorneys and the judge were running out of patience with Marcus and probably would have sent him to prison.<br> <br> But then, the mother of all lifelines was extended.<br> <br> SMITH: I've tried to think of other ways to help him and I thought really the best way to help him is to get him out of Chicago for a while.<br> <br> Maura Smith's daughter goes to a Catholic boarding school in Kansas and one day she thought it might be a good place for Marcus.<br> <br> So she and a friend offered to split the tuition costs.<br> <br> Smith met Marcus when she was volunteering at the juvenile prison every Tuesday night just visiting with kids.<br> <br> It's through a Christian ministry but she says she's not much for talking about God.<br> <br> She talks to the kids about their families or music they like.<br> <br> SMITH: And some of those boys, you feel like, there's not going to be many options for them and it breaks your heart.<br> <br> But Marcus?<br> <br> SMITH: He was just one of those young men that you really felt, hey, this young guy could probably do something.<br> <br> Smith was charmed by Marcus though she's no fool either.<br> <br> She chooses not to know the details of what all he's into.<br> <br> She arranged for him to visit the Kansas campus.<br> <br> MARCUS: Man it's nice.&nbsp; It's a lot of international kids.&nbsp; Like I met this girl from Peru.&nbsp; She was nice.&nbsp; She was gorgeous.&nbsp; Talking about just beautiful.&nbsp; And I met this girl from Mexico, beautiful too.&nbsp; Then another girl from Ghana, Africa.&nbsp; Beautiful.<br> <br> So last fall, with this unheard of opportunity on the horizon, the judge, the probation officers, the attorneys, they all gave Marcus extra lifelines just trying to get him to the new semester.<br> <br> He was set to leave January 3rd so they didn't let him out of jail until December 22nd in an effort to limit his chances of getting in trouble.<br> <br> But probation officer Garcia says even in that short time frame, Marcus disappeared from his mother's house for a few days and he missed a meeting, but Garcia gave him the benefit of the doubt one final time.<br> <br> GARCIA: It was all with this notion that come January 3rd he's going to show up at home and have his bags packed and ready to go.&nbsp; Like that's all I was focused on.<br> <br> Marcus did leave January 3rd though he's already gotten in trouble at the new school for smoking Marijuana.<br> <br> But there are also signs of hope.<br> <br> He's been asking teachers for help, showing he wants to succeed.<br> <br> And he's talking about a trip in the spring.<br> <br> Garcia says that means he's finally looking ahead, thinking about more than just tomorrow.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 01 Feb 2011 09:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/inside-and-out-marcus-year-trouble-and-surprises How Illinois Spending on Juvenile Justice Compares to Other States http://www.wbez.org/blog/how-illinois-spending-juvenile-justice-compares-other-states <p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//inside_out_06.jpg"><img height="332" width="499" class="size-full wp-image-18144" title="inside_out_06" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//inside_out_06.jpg" alt="" /></a></p><p style="text-align: left;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">For the past few months we've been talking about Illinois' Department of Juvenile Justice as part of our series <em><a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/">Inside and Out</a></em>.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: left;">We've tracked down <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/marcus-run">kids with warrants out for their arrest</a>, spent the day <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/juvenile-probation-day-front-lines">with a probation officer</a>, examined <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/illinois-youth-prisons-see-more-suicide-attempts">suicide attempts among incarcerated youth</a> and <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/line-day-st-charles-youth-prison">reported from inside one of Illinois' eight youth prisons</a>. One thing we haven't done yet is to compare Illinois with other states to see how our juvenile justice system stacks up.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Illinois spends an average of $233 per day to incarcerate a single youth. That's more than $85,000 per year per child.</p><p style="text-align: left;">That number is one thing.&sbquo;&nbsp; Turns out--comparing it in an apples to apples way is quite another. <!--break-->We've hesitated to measure this number against other states because each state has its own system for dealing with kids in trouble with the law. And the differences between states' systems can be pretty significant.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Lisa Jacobs, director of Illinois' Models for Change Initiative, says that Ohio's system of juvenile justice comes closest to Illinois'.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Both states had slightly more than 1,400 kids in their prisons in 2009. And in both states counties are responsible for short-term detention while the state is responsible for longer-term incarceration.</p><p style="text-align: left;">But Ohio spends $334 per youth per day - $100 a day more than Illinois - to incarcerate its youth.</p><p style="text-align: left;">One major difference between the two states is that Ohio's Department of Youth Services settled a class action lawsuit in 2008. As part of the settlement, Ohio hired more guards at its six prisons. They've also closed two youth prisons in the past two years and will close a third next month.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Amy Swanson, director of Voices for Ohio's Children, says that it's a &quot;transformative time&quot; in the state. She said that Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, met his wife while they were working in juvenile facilities, and that he's been very supportive of the changes taking place in Ohio.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Indiana meanwhile spends about $173 per day per kid, which, I'm told, is way more than what they spend on adults in prison.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Washington State spent $258 per day for each of their 1,687 youths in custody in 2009. And Kansas has only 355 kids in its juvenile prisons but spends $239 per kid per day. Missouri is a model for many states because its focuses heavily on rehabilitating youths. In 2005, Missouri's &quot;Secure Care&quot; cost $156 per child per day while its community-based treatment cost $113 per child per day.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Numbers don't tell the whole story, by any means.&sbquo;&nbsp; But they're important to know as Illinois has another go at improving its justice system for young people.</p></p> Thu, 18 Mar 2010 07:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/how-illinois-spending-juvenile-justice-compares-other-states