WBEZ | Inside and Out http://www.wbez.org/series/inside-and-out Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Timeline: Quinn abandons youth prison merger http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-14/timeline-quinn-abandons-youth-prison-merger-89148 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//stcharles.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Big plans do not always happen. Such is the case with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn's proposal to merge the agency responsible for youth prisons (Department of Juvenile Justice) with the agency responsible for foster care (Department of Children and Family Services). Quinn proposed this in March of last year, and kept pushing it publicly through that July. But now - a year later - the merger is "on hold," as DJJ Director Arthur Bishop puts it.</p><p>We ran a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/quinns-youth-prisons-proposal-fades-away-89125">story</a> on this today on WBEZ. For more information, check out our series on the juvenile justice system, <em><a href="http://wbez.org/insideandout">Inside and Out</a></em>. Below is a timeline of events related to the youth prison system since its creation five years ago.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-14/inside_out_08.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px; margin: 5px;" title="Carlos Javier Ortiz for WBEZ"></p><p align="center"><strong>Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice</strong></p><p>November 17, 2005: Gov. Rod Blagojevich <a href="http://www.illinois.gov/pressreleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=1&amp;RecNum=4486">signs into law</a> SB 92, legislation separating the juvenile prison system from the Department of Corrections.</p><p>July 1, 2006: The new Department of Juvenile Justice is born, but many support services for the agency, including parole supervision, remained under the adult system.</p><p>September 1, 2009: A youth incarcerated at the facility in St. Charles <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/illinois-youth-prisons-see-more-suicide-attempts">commits suicide</a>. The facility did not have "safety beds" that could help prevent suicides. (Almost two years later, a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/no-suicide-proof-beds-kids-suicide-cells-88902">report</a> from the John Howard Association found that cells doubling as suicide watch cells still lacked these beds.)</p><p>September 8, 2009: The state’s auditor general <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/auditor-general-report-department-juvenile-justice">issues a scathing report</a> on the Department of Juvenile Justice. It criticized the agency for taking years to write job descriptions, and for taking so long to purchase computers for incarcerated youth that a federal grant expired.</p><p>March 2, 2010: Lawmakers in the Legislative Audit Commission quiz the department’s director, Kurt Friedenauer, about its high recidivism rate and lack of separation from the adult prison system.</p><p>March 10, 2010: Gov. Pat Quinn’s office releases budget documents that show <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/quinn-tries-merge-youth-prison-system-dcfs">his intention to merge</a> the Department of Juvenile Justice with the much larger Department of Children and Family Services, which handles foster care.</p><p>March 23, 2010: AFSCME, a politically powerful union representing many employees in the department, <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/lots-questions-still-need-answers-youth-prison-merger">comes out against the merger proposal</a> during a legislative hearing.</p><p>March 26, 2010: More than two dozen state lawmakers send Quinn a letter, asking him to hold off on issuing an executive order merging the two departments. “More time is needed” to examine the proposal, they write.</p><p>April 1, 2010: Quinn <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/quinn-issues-order-youth-prisons-0">signs an executive order</a> directing his staff to work toward merging the departments, and to craft legislation making it official. This is a step back from his administration’s previous position that lawmaker approval was unnecessary.</p><p>July 14, 2010: Friedenauer <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/head-youth-prisons-illinois-resigns">resigns</a>, effective at the end of the month.</p><p>July 16, 2010: Quinn names <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/quinn-names-child-welfare-vet-head-youth-prisons">Arthur Bishop</a> as acting head of the youth prison system, saying he will lead the department as it merges with DCFS. The governor says there is no deadline for the merger, but says it will happen “with dispatch“ and “certainly by year’s end.”</p><p>July 28, 2010: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/politics/union-bridles-youth-prisons-merger">At a hearing</a>, lawmakers seem skeptical about the merger plan, and whether it is more than simply a bureaucratic reshuffling.</p><p>July 29, 2010: A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/report-finds-flaws-illinois-youth-prisons">report</a> from the nonprofit MacArthur Foundation finds that staffing levels at the youth prisons are too low, and employees not properly trained, to treat mental health issues. A report author says more than 70-percent of the youth in the system have mental health needs.</p><p>August 1, 2010: Bishop takes over the department.</p><p>January 1, 2011: <a href="http://ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=5913&amp;GAID=10&amp;DocTypeID=HB&amp;LegId=51576&amp;SessionID=76&amp;GA=96">Legislation takes effect</a> that seeks to separate some of the existing links between the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice. It directs the administration to – “where possible” – share administrative services “with child-serving agencies,” such as DCFS.</p><p>February&nbsp; 2011: The first class of “<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/aftercare/inside-and-out-keeping-kids-out-prison-good">aftercare specialists</a>” begin training. The new position is basically a youth-focused parole officer. Previously, all parole monitoring was performed by officers employed by the adult Department of Corrections. Despite higher targets, only five “aftercare specialists” keep the job. A second training class of “aftercare specialists" was set to start in May, but was delayed until August.</p><p>July 12, 2011: Bishop says the merger idea has been “<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/quinns-youth-prisons-proposal-fades-away-89125">put on hold</a>.” He said that after planning for the merger began, “we found that the collaborative relationships with other state agencies and other partners allowed us to accomplish a number of the things that we've accomplished thus far, and so the focus is on the youth and the rehabilitation of the youth as opposed to what address DJJ sits in.”</p></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 14:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-14/timeline-quinn-abandons-youth-prison-merger-89148 Quinn's youth prisons proposal fades away http://www.wbez.org/story/quinns-youth-prisons-proposal-fades-away-89125 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-14/inside_out_09.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A major change for Illinois' youth prisons is on hold. Gov. Pat Quinn last year pushed to merge the Department of Juvenile Justice into another agency, the Department of Children and Family Services. Quinn said it would lead to more treatment for incarcerated youth, though some lawmakers and a public employee union resisted the move. And, like many big ideas, the merger fell by the wayside. But there does appear to be change - however modest - coming to the state's youth prison system.</p><p><strong>Check out all the stories from our series <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"><em>Inside and Out: Young people and juvenile justice in Illinois</em></a></strong>.</p><p><strong>See a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-14/timeline-quinn-abandons-youth-prison-merger-89148">timeline tracking the Department of Juvenile Justic since its creation</a></strong>.</p><p>It was only five years ago that the Department of Juvenile Justice separated from the adult prison system and became its own agency. But it floundered. Facilities were crumbling, unclean and unsafe. Few activities were available for the roughly 1200 incarcerated kids; not all got a full day of school and next to no job training was offered. More than half the youth released ended up getting in trouble and being sent back.</p><p>So, last year, Quinn proposed merging the Department of Juvenile Justice with DCFS, a larger agency that runs the foster care system.</p><p>"Okay, I think that it was an idea. Somebody came up with it. And it was like, 'Oh, why don't we do this?'" state Rep. Karen Yarbrough, D-Maywood, mockingly recalled.</p><p>At the time of Quinn's proposal, Yarbrough chaired the committee that oversaw funding for youth prisons. She was not impressed.</p><p>"DCFS is a huge agency. And I just figured these kids would get lost," Yarbrough said. "We just had taken these kids out of a big agency - Department of Corrections - so to throw them back into another big agency was not my idea of the right thing to do."</p><p>Quinn, though, was determined. He issued an executive order, directing state agencies to work together and come up with a merger plan that lawmakers could consider. But the time line kept slipping - from weeks to months, to more months.</p><p>"We're going to make this transition over the next six months," Quinn told reporters in mid-July of last year. "Certainly by year's end [in 2010], they'll all be be put together."</p><p>"I'd say it's put on hold," Arthur Bishop said in an interview this week. Bishop was hand-picked by Quinn a year ago to run the juvenile justice department.</p><p>"I'm not saying it's something that you can never come back to, but right now this is our focus, and so we're not spending too much time right now talking about merger."</p><p>Bishop acknowledged the merger idea between the youth prison system and DCFS was going nowhere.</p><p>"As we went into the discussions around merger, we found that the collaborative relationships with other state agencies and other partners, allowed us to accomplish a number of the things that we've accomplished thus far, and so the focus is on the youth and the rehabilitation of the youth as opposed to what address DJJ sits in," Bishop said.</p><p>Specifically, the department is relying on DCFS to help train a new kind of employee, called an "aftercare specialist," basically a youth-focused parole officer.</p><p>Until recently, when kids were released, they were all monitored by parole officers employed by the adult Department of Corrections, and minor violations landed many back to prison.</p><p>But these "aftercare specialists" are supposed to meet the kids when they're first incarcerated, get to know their families. Essentially, help keep parolees out of trouble, save taxpayers from the cost of imprisoning them again and keep the communities they're returning to safer.</p><p>"It's not only to reduce recidivism," Bishop said. "But to ensure that a youth are involved in pro-social and positive things in the community, such as education, vocation and also in the appropriate services."</p><p>But the progress here is markedly slower than expected. Bishop originally hoped to have about 20 of these aftercare specialists working with kids in Cook County by now. He has just 5.</p><p>"That's the hiring process," he said. "It's not unusual. You have a target, and you identify individuals that are either coming from other state agencies or coming from other professions, and then sometimes when they find out what the job calls for, they make their own individual decisions."</p><p>Bishop notes that an additional 15 are scheduled to begin training in August, though - like the last round - the final number could be much lower.</p><p>And this aftercare program is only temporary: a two-year grant using federal stimulus dollars. Gov. Quinn's proposed budget this year included money to keep the program going, and begin to expand it statewide. But the legislature did not fund that. In fact, the juvenile justice department as a whole saw a $5-million cut from the last fiscal year.</p><p>Working with less, though, is the name of the game in state government these days. And Bishop's efforts in his first year are earning cautiously positive marks from advocates.</p><p>"All of this incredibly [is] well-intentioned and a great deal of work," said Elizabeth Clarke with the Juvenile Justice Initiative. "It is frustrating that given all of this, the conditions for the youth remain at the level that they are."</p><p>Concerns such as those are affirmed by a report last week by the John Howard Association, a prison watchdog group. It found problems at the St. Charles facility in recreational activities, maintenance and upkeep, safety and staff training - all things Bishop said he's working on.</p><p>But the most challenging questions facing the juvenile justice department are much broader. They involve local and labor union politics, and are beyond the new director's immediate reach. How many of the eight youth prisons around the state should be operating? How many staff should be working there? And how many kids should be incarcerated and for what offenses?</p><p>Those remaining and unsettled issues aside, Clarke contends that Gov. Quinn's abandoned proposal to merge the Department of Juvenile Justice with DCFS was not a waste of time.</p><p>"It certainly did propel a really necessary discussion about the overall focus of the agency," Clarke said. "Because juveniles are different. They need a treatment focus and they really do need more of a child welfare focus rather than an adult punishment, criminal focus."</p><p>Whether that focus translates to better conditions for incarcerated youth, fewer repeat criminals and safer communities, that's going to take a lot longer than a year to know for sure.</p></p> Thu, 14 Jul 2011 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/quinns-youth-prisons-proposal-fades-away-89125 Inside and Out: Keeping kids out of prison for good http://www.wbez.org/story/aftercare/inside-and-out-keeping-kids-out-prison-good <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//iycchicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Young people often face a rocky transition when&nbsp; they get out of prison and go home. Most talk about turning their lives around. And yet, in Illinois, half these kids end up back inside.</p><p>Yesterday, as part of our juvenile justice series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/insideandout">Inside and Out</a>, we met a family that appears to be giving up on their 18-year-old son because he keeps getting arrested. Their lives are too busy and stressful - they're worn down.</p><p>But today,&nbsp; we spend time with Gail, who seems to bring endless energy to the often challenging job of raising a teenage son in a city full of pitfalls.<br> <br> Gail's son has been giving her a lot of trouble over the past couple years.<br> <br> GAIL: As a parent, I wish they had a drop off center, you know when you take little newborns and you get to...&nbsp; That's how much I feel out of control with helping him.<br> <br> Gail's son, and we're not using her last name to protect his identity, he's doing his second stint at IYC Chicago, a prison for kids, and she's worried about him getting out of prison because when he came out the first time he ended up going straight back to his gang.<br> <br> GAIL: He didn't want to go back out there to his friends but it was so powerful.&nbsp; I don't want him to come home.&nbsp; I don't.&nbsp; Cause we're here now, I could be in the funeral home tomorrow.&nbsp; I'm scared for my son to come home because it's going to pull him back.&nbsp; The gangs are there to catch him, always.<br> <br> The youth prison where Gail's son is being held in Chicago is an unremarkable building on Western Avenue just south of the the Lake Street "L" line.<br> <br> The exterior is a mustard yellow metal and it kind of looks like a school gym.<br> <br> On this evening, Gail's come to a parent meeting, one of the first.<br> <br> It's a new idea Earl Merritt came up with.<br> <br> He's the superintendent, what would be called a warden in an adult facility.<br> <br> MERRITT: I think that if we're going to be successful working with our kids we have to find a way to reunite families.&nbsp; You have to put kids back with their families and I believe this is a big step toward doing that.<br> <br> Merritt's idea is kind of a shoe string budget solution to a huge problem that's gone unsolved in the department and it's this:<br> <br> Kids leaving prison all talk a good game about finishing their education, being productive, and yet they often immediately fall back into old habits.<br> <br> Within months a lot of them are back inside.<br> <br> The original plan for the 4 and a half year old deparment of juvenile justice included so called aftercare, a network of support on the outside.<br> <br> Aftercare is supposed to provide support for kids who often don't have the skills and maturity to get back in school or get a job on their own.<br> <br> But at least right now, such a safety net doesn't exist.<br> <br> So Merritt and his employees are trying to do what they can.<br> <br> MERRITT: All it takes to succeed in this is just to care. There's no great deal of skill.&nbsp; You find that when you work with people who care about what they're doing, who believe in the mission, and believe in the goals of what they're doing, the work becomes easy.<br> <br> All the employees involved in the parent's night are volunteering their time to attend the meeting after work.<br> <br> They've invited parents like Gail to come in and talk about what they'll need when their sons come home.<br> <br> The meeting is being held in the prison's visiting room.<br> <br> Noisy vending machines line one wall.<br> <br> On the other side is a table with a bucket of ice and some pops.<br> <br> There's an enormous tray of cheese cubes and rolled up cold cuts with toothpicks sticking out of them and saran wrap draped over top.<br> <br> MERRITT: I will not be disappointed if only two mothers or two fathers show up here today and listen to what we have to say, I will consider it a success.<br> <br> WILDEBOER: That's a lot of cold cuts for them to eat though.<br> <br> MERRITT: Well there's you and I after, after the things over with.<br> <br> Merritt's projection is on the money.<br> <br> Other than Gail and her ex husband, only one other parent shows up.<br> <br> But the dozen or so staff pull chairs into a circle and explain what they do.<br> <br> SOT: My name is Cara Murphy.&nbsp; I actually work with the...<br> <br> When the presentations are over Gail starts in on her long list of concerns.<br> <br> One of the main ones is her son's drug habit.<br> <br> She wants to get him into a drug program as soon as he's released but she doesn't have any money to pay for it.<br> <br> GAIL: He at sixteen is all tapped out with insurance and benefits and lifetime coverage, he's tapped out at sixteen.&nbsp; So I can't go see a counselor any more because he's used all his sessions.&nbsp; So I need something.<br> <br> MURPHY: And I think that's completely reasonable and…<br> <br> Murphy and the others tell Gail that they have a database of drug counseling providers that charge on a sliding scale and they should be able to find one in her neighborhood.<br> <br> Gail also wants a mentor for her son to combat the lure of gangs, and she wants to get him into a program to keep him busy when he gets out.<br> <br> For every concern, staff members come up with some possible solutions and they tell Gail they'll make some calls and get back to her.<br> <br> In less than an hour Gail, who knows her son better than anyone, is on the way to getting the resources she thinks her son will need to stay out of prison.<br> <br> And she says it was therapeutic to be able to talk about these issues and get some help.<br> <br> That meeting was actually last June and in the intervening six months since prison employees followed up with Gail on every issue she raised.<br> <br> But her son was released in September and it hasn't been without challenges.<br> <br> GAIL: He got released on the 15th and on the 19th he was arrested.<br> <br> Gail says he was arrested for throwing gang signs and cluttering up the sidewalk and quote, "intimidating people."<br> <br> Now she knows that her son isn't an angel but she readily admits when he breaks the law and this sounds to her like a bogus charge.<br> <br> GAIL: It almost seems like they're just gonna keep charging him, charging him, 14, 15, 16, 17 and wham we got him, 18-years-old lets send him to 26th and California, so that's the path that I believe they're on with my son, the police and task force around here.<br> <br> Gail says police also shared her son's juvenile record with her neighbors at the local CAPS meeting but she doesn't want to make a fuss over the disclosure because she doesn't want to draw more police attention to her son than he already gets.<br> <br> And Gail has had difficulty scheduling with the non-profit groups the prison staff worked so hard to hook her up with.<br> <br> Here's one example... they connected Gail with a counseling center near her house and she made an appointment to start individual, group, and family counseling but…<br> <br> GAIL: They only had interns for the sessions and my insurance only pays for certified therapists, so that fell through.<br> <br> In the end, her son was out of prison without any services from the Department of Juvenile Justice.<br> <br> GAIL: The only thing that is for sure is that his parole officer will come by once a month for five minutes, give him a drug test and that's it, and that's it.&nbsp; What is that?&nbsp; What is that?<br> <br> BISHOP: DOC parole agents, they do what they do.&nbsp; And this is what they've been trained to do is to monitor.<br> <br> Arthur Bishop is the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the agency that runs the prisons for kids.<br> <br> BISHOP: We're starting at ground zero in developing an aftercare program.&nbsp; There is no aftercare, true aftercare program.<br> <br> Right now, even though kids go to youth prisons, when they get out they're under adult parole.<br> <br> Those parole agents just show up to see if kids are breaking any rules, and if they are, they bring the kids back to prison.<br> <br> But, Bishop says, that's going to change.<br> <br> 7 people start training this week to become so called aftercare specialists.<br> <br> They'll be case managers so that if a kid is violating parole by say, using drugs, instead of just sending him back to prison, these new case workers will try to get the kid some treatment.<br> <br> Another 14 are scheduled to start in May.&nbsp;<br> <br> All of those employees will be working in the Chicago area but Bishop says he hopes to hire even more to work across the state.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p><p>And an update: Earl Merritt was recently retired as superintendent of I-Y-C Chicago.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 03 Feb 2011 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/aftercare/inside-and-out-keeping-kids-out-prison-good Inside and Out: Stress and fatigue can defeat families http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families <p><p>Nearly half the kids leaving Illinois youth prisons end up back inside. They just can't make it outside. The pull of the old life is strong, and a lot of times,&nbsp; the families of young offenders just can't get them back into school, or a job, or away from the street.&nbsp; It's a wasteful cycle…for the state and especially for the lives of kids themselves.&nbsp; WBEZ's<a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"> Inside and Out</a> team met a lot of these young people last year as we reported on the state's youth prisons. We're revisiting some of them this week, as we begin a look at what it would take to keep more kids out of prison for good.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>When Meechie was in the Chicago prison for kids his mother and grandmother visited him without fail.<br> <br> SHAPREE: She wants to go every weekend.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's my oldest grandbaby and he's locked up, he can't get out and I know I would want to see somebody, at least on the weekend.&nbsp; I love my baby I'm sorry.&nbsp; I just love my grandson.<br> <br> SHAPREE: That's not teaching him a lesson of him missing us and him doing what he needs to do.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's teaching him a lesson.&nbsp; I think he have learned his lesson.&nbsp; I don't want him to think that I gave up on him.&nbsp; I haven't gave up on him during the times that he was doing the stuff he wasn't supposed to be doing so I'm not giving up on him now.<br> <br> They drive a couple miles through a heavy rain on a Saturday morning from the house on Chicago's West Side to the youth prison on Western Avenue, a few lights north of the Eisenhower.<br> <br> I should say here that we're not using Meechie's last name to protect his identity because of his status as a juvenile offender.<br> <br> On the way to the prison on this morning, his mom and grandmother stop to pick up Meechie's son.<br> <br> JOSIE: Hello Foo-foo.&nbsp; Say 'hi.'<br> <br> The three of them head into the prison and spend a couple hours with Meechie in the visting room but it doesn't go well.<br> <br> Meechie is down because he recently got a ticket for a disciplinary infraction of some sort, nothing major but it's got him worried.<br> <br> The judge in his case said she'd keep him in prison if he didn't stay out of trouble.<br> <br> But in the hearing a week later, a guard from the prison calls Meechie a quote, "model youth."<br> <br> That, along with his good grades impressed the judge and she let him out.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah, I was praying all night so I could come home!&nbsp; Fixin' to go to the house, get in the shower, and change my clothes and stuff.<br> <br> Back at home, on his front porch, Meechie says all the right things, the things he heard over and over from staff in prison.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah I'm fenna get my GED.&nbsp; I'm probably fenna go to Malcolm X, get my GED.<br> <br> But actually going to Malcolm X city college and signing up, that doesn't happen before he's arrested on a drug charge just a couple weeks after being released.<br> <br> For whatever reason Meechie didn't go sign up on his own.<br> <br> He isn't mature enough, or determined enough, or something.<br> <br> And his family didn't help and no one else was on him to make sure he got enrolled.<br> <br> And his new case is an adult case because he's 18 now.<br> <br> On the plus side, he's not being held at the Cook County jail though he does have to spend his days there as part of a day reporting program, a way for the jail to keep an eye on him without having to actually keep him 24/7.<br> <br> But the hearings in adult court are confusing, and frustrating and often times degrading.<br> <br> At his first hearing he didn't have an attorney lined up and the judge, Gloria Chevere, berated him.<br> <br> She scheduled a hearing for a week later and said if he doesn't have a private attorney by then, she's going to take the thousand dollars he posted for bond, and she's going to give it to the first lawyer who happens to be in court that day and that will be his attorney.<br> <br> Meechie and his mom leave angry and silent, walking 20 feet apart.<br> <br> MEECHIE: I don't even want to talk about it.<br> <br> With the hearing done, Meechie is supposed to go back to the jail for the day reporting program, but his mom has had it.…she just drives him back home along with his co-defendant who also had to be in court that day.<br> <br> She drops them both off at a corner in the neighborhood, the same streets where they were arrested.<br> <br> Later at home, tired and seeming depressed, she eats a small pizza off of a paper plate and won't talk about the case.<br> <br> SHAPREE: I ain't fenna answer no questions because I don't feel like it.<br> <br> She says there's no more she can do for her son.<br> <br> Meechie's grandmother Josie is willing to talk but it seems like she too has given up.<br> <br> She's laying on the coach watching One Oh Six and park on B-E-T with two of Meechie's younger siblings.<br> <br> SOT<br> <br> She's able to provide housing for a couple of her adult children and their children.<br> <br> But her job working on case files for cancer patients who have died is depressing and the ride to work is an hour and a half on the bus each way.<br> <br> JOSIE: I'm tired.&nbsp; Disgusted.&nbsp; This is my building, I wanted to move from around here so maybe he would have a better chance in life but I can't afford to move.<br> <br> Josie says she's told the family they shouldn't call her at work anymore when Meechie is in trouble.<br> <br> JOSIE: Long as I don't know what he doing now, it don't bother me too much because I just can't take it no more.&nbsp; I don't want to see him in jail cause he's not in juvie no more, this will be the county.<br> <br> The thing about Meechie's story and his family's inability to help him, it's a very common.<br> <br> In reporting on juvenile justice I've met a number of moms who gave up on their kids, and it's usually for good reason.<br> <br> With limited time and energy, some choose to focus on the younger kids because maybe they can still be saved.<br> <br> Others have no choice because of health problems.<br> <br> I've talked to moms who are under doctor's orders to avoid stress which means avoiding their kids and their kid's problems.<br> <br> But even moms who haven't given up, they still have a hard time getting help for their kids.<br> <br> Tune in tomorrow as we hear about one mother's often frustrated efforts to get her son more support than the monthly five minute visit from a parole officer that he's getting now.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families 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 Inside/Out: Marcus on the run http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/insideout-marcus-run <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IYC-Joilet-164.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thousands of teenagers cycle in and out of the state's eight youth prisons every year. In fact, 1,300 are locked up at any one time. So, WBEZ’s investigative team went out to find out who they are and how their time in jail affected their chances of turning their lives around.<br> <br> Reporter Rob Wildeboer introduced us to Marcus, a 14-year-old boy who was struggling to graduate from grade school. Marcus is a pseudonym we're using to protect the young man's identity.<br> <br> For Marcus, joining a gang was gradual; it just kind of happened. It started with hearing the tales of school mates who stayed out all night and had adventures.<br> <br> Marcus spent a lot of this past year in juvenile jail. But there are some promising things that may come from that experience.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 29 Dec 2010 07:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/insideout-marcus-run Inside and Out: A Look Inside St. Charles http://www.wbez.org/story/inside-and-out-look-inside-st-charles <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20100315_newsintern_1711155_Insi_large.png" alt="" /><p><br> <p><strong>All this week we're resuming our series on juvenile justice, Inside and Out. Today we begin by taking you to a mysterious place. A place that's shut off to the public and the media. We're talking about a youth prison. </strong><br> Illinois has eight of them. Thousands of young people are sent every year to be rehabilitated, educated, equipped with skills, and to be turned away from crime before it becomes a lifestyle.<br> <br> We've begun to get a look inside and WBEZ's Robert Wildeboer takes us to the sprawling St. Charles prison campus 40 miles west of Chicago.<br> <br> <a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/content/line-day-st-charles-youth-prison">Click here for today's story. </a></p></p> Mon, 15 Mar 2010 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/inside-and-out-look-inside-st-charles Inside and Out: New Series Follows Youth In and Out of Juvenile Prison http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/inside-and-out-new-series-follows-youth-and-out-juvenile-prison <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//archives/images/cityroom/848_20100125a_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>We begin our new series—<a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"><em>Inside and Out</em></a>. We'll meet kids who are getting in trouble with the law. We've been following them as they've struggled to turn their lives around, as they've come in contact with police and the courts, and as they've gotten locked-up. Alongside jail time, thousands of kids are serving longer sentences in one of the state's eight youth prisons. Fifteen-hundred are estimated to be locked up at any one time. We wanted to know: Who are they? What are their needs? How does their time inside help or hurt their chances of turning their lives around outside? The answers matter not only to the young people but to the families and communities they return to. All this week on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>, we'll get to know some of the people and issues inside and out of the state's juvenile prison system.<br> <br> Our reporters Robert Wildeboer and Adriene Hill are part of the team working on this series and explain what's in store for the series.<br> <br> <strong>RELATED:</strong><br> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/5050.aspx"><em>50/50: The Odds of Graduating</em></a><br> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/Content.aspx?audioID=38706">Gov. Quinn Keeping Youth Prisons in the Dark</a><br> <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=38711">Reporter Robert Wildeboer Discusses Problems of Access at Juvenile Prisons</a></p></p> Mon, 25 Jan 2010 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/inside-and-out-new-series-follows-youth-and-out-juvenile-prison