WBEZ | Cook County http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en After detective’s acquittal in fatal shooting, prosecutors face criticism http://www.wbez.org/news/after-detective%E2%80%99s-acquittal-fatal-shooting-prosecutors-face-criticism-111907 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rekia-boyd-dante-servin-chicago-police-brutality-320x213.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Cleared of charges after fatally shooting an African American woman, a Chicago police detective says justice was served. But the woman&rsquo;s supporters say the detective deserved to go to prison. They are slamming the acquittal and the way the case was prosecuted.</p><p dir="ltr">Det. Dante Servin faced charges including involuntary manslaughter for the 2012 death of Rekia Boyd, 22. Before hearing the defense present its witnesses, Cook County Associate Judge Dennis J. Porter abruptly ended the trial Monday. He read a seven-page order that acquitted Servin on all counts.</p><p dir="ltr">To some folks in the courtroom, Porter seemed to be saying the trial might have ended differently if prosecutors had charged the detective with murder. And it&rsquo;s not just Boyd&rsquo;s friends and relatives questioning Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office. Some legal scholars are too.</p><p dir="ltr">Our story (listen above) explores whether the charges were appropriate through the eyes of the judge, Boyd&rsquo;s family, the detective, the state&rsquo;s attorney and an outside expert.</p><div><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a>. In the photo, Servin hears the judge acquit him on Monday (John J. Kim, Chicago Tribune).</em></div></p> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/after-detective%E2%80%99s-acquittal-fatal-shooting-prosecutors-face-criticism-111907 Locked up since 14, Adolfo Davis gets chance at new sentence http://www.wbez.org/news/locked-14-adolfo-davis-gets-chance-new-sentence-111863 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: Eight years ago, reporter Linda Paul was reporting for WBEZ on life sentences without parole for juveniles. She came across the case of&nbsp;</em><em>Adolfo Davis,</em><em>&nbsp;who&rsquo;d received the sentence years before as a teenager. She went to visit Davis in prison and set out to understand the circumstances and crime that got him such a sentence. She visited him another time and has kept in touch with his case. This is her update on what has brought Adolfo Davis to his resentencing hearing today.</em></p><p>It&rsquo;s hard, but let&rsquo;s try to wrap our heads around this: Up until about 10 years ago it was legal in the United States to sentence a juvenile to death.<br /><br />The last decade has been kind of a wild ride when it comes to U. S. Supreme Court proclamations on whether juveniles are different from adults when it comes to punishment for the most severe of crimes.<br /><br />In 2005, in a decision called Roper v Simmons, the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for minors. Then five years later the high court said it&rsquo;s unconstitutional to sentence a youth to life without the possibility of parole for a crime other than murder.<br /><br />And in 2012, in Miller v Alabama the Court held that mandatory life without parole sentences for young people under 18 are cruel and unusual punishment.<br /><br />Mandatory &mdash; as in a court had no discretion to choose a different sentence &mdash; even if the judge felt that circumstances called for it.</p><p>And Miller v Alabama says, when it comes to kids &mdash; that&rsquo;s a big problem. So now mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles are outlawed.<br /><br />That doesn&rsquo;t mean minors can&rsquo;t get life without parole. But Miller says the sentence should be rare. Judges are instructed to give great weight to youth-oriented factors like age, home environment, lack of adequate parenting or supervision, and capacity for rehabilitation.<br /><br />At the heart of Miller is the notion that juveniles are different than adults, more malleable than adults and are able to grow and change over time.<br /><br />One thing Miller didn&rsquo;t specify, is whether its ruling was retroactive. Should it apply to past cases? That&rsquo;s a battle being fought state by state.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/DSC06448edited.jpg" style="float: left; height: 280px; width: 280px;" title="Adolfo Davis as an adult, while incarcerated at Menard Prison in southern Illinois (Linda Paul/ WBEZ)" /></div><p>Here in Illinois that question got settled last year in a case called People of the State of Illinois v Adolfo Davis. The Illinois Supreme Court said yes, Miller does apply retroactively. That opened the door to resentencing hearings for the 80 people in Illinois who&rsquo;ve received mandatory life without parole for crimes committed when they were juveniles.<br /><br />Now Adolfo Davis&rsquo; case is again at the forefront of these evolving legal practices, because today Davis will have one of the first post -Miller resentencing hearings in the state.<br /><br />All this is of interest to WBEZ, because we&rsquo;ve been following his case for years.<br /><br />I first met Adolfo Davis back in November of 2007. I&rsquo;d driven seven hours to Menard Prison at the southern tip of Illinois to interview a couple of people who received life without parole sentences when they were kids. At the time, I knew next to nothing about their cases.<br /><br />When I met Davis, the first thing I asked was - what name do you go by?</p><p>&ldquo;Spooncake,&rdquo; he told me.</p><p>Spooncake? Later I found out that&rsquo;s the name for an old southern dish, a rich gooey chocolate cake.&nbsp; His family had other nicknames for him including &ldquo;Catsugar,&rdquo; an affectionate term concocted by his grandmother, Fannie Davis.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/grandma%20Fannie%20Davisedited.jpg" style="height: 278px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Fannie Davis, Adolfo’s grandmother, now deceased. (Linda Paul/ WBEZ)" />I met Fannie Davis just once. She&rsquo;s no longer alive, but back then Davis called his grandmother &ldquo;my heart.&rdquo; Fannie told me that in the months before Adolfo was arrested, her husband died and one of her twelve children was murdered.</div><p>But it&rsquo;s what happened to Adolfo that particularly haunted her.</p><p>&ldquo;I would see him in my sleep. I would hear him callin&rsquo; me. And that would just pull me all the way down to nuthin,&rsquo;&rdquo; she told me.<br /><br />Fannie described Adolfo as a boy who liked to play with any kind of animals, including cats, dogs and fish. When I asked what kind of kid he was, she gave what seemed like a scrupulously honest answer: &ldquo;Pretty good. I ain&rsquo;t gonna say he was the best. But he was good.&rdquo;<br /><br />When Adolfo was a child, Fannie&nbsp; worried about his insomnia and his strange habit of knocking his head against the wall until it bled. Reports of this behavior are documented in DCFS records that existed years before the crime that landed him in prison.<br /><br />At that time Fannie Davis was overwhelmed. She worked all day and came home to a husband who was disabled and bedridden, a son who was mentally disabled, and a daughter &mdash; Adolfo&rsquo;s mother &mdash; who was a drug addict and had not made it far enough in school to know how to read or write very well.<br /><br />&ldquo;She didn&rsquo;t care &lsquo;bout nothing I did,&rdquo; Adolfo said about his mother. &ldquo; I went to school dirty. She didn&rsquo;t care, as long as she got that check once a month,&rdquo; he said. At trial when asked when Adolfo&rsquo;s birthday was, court records show that Karen Davis didn&rsquo;t know.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A criminal career at a young age</span></p><p>In the months after I met Adolfo Davis, I tracked down three of Davis&rsquo; early defense lawyers and two of his prosecutors. David O&rsquo;Connor was one of the original prosecutors at Davis&rsquo; trial and he had strong memories of Adolfo as a young teenager.<br /><br />&ldquo;Adolfo Davis?&rdquo; O&rsquo;Connor asked. &ldquo;Any time you&#39;re talking about a juvenile who started a criminal career at the age of eight and had an armed robbery under his belt by the age of ten, and then at the age of fourteen commits a double murder? Ummm, I think that says quite a bit about that juvenile.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /><br />It became apparent pretty quickly, that the narrative of Davis&rsquo; crime varied widely with which person told the story. And that remains true with the lawyers who are involved in his case 24 years after the fact.<br /><br />Everyone seems to agree that a turf war was raging between two factions of a single gang on the South Side of Chicago. Gang members were arguing over who could sell drugs where.<br /><br />After that, the stories diverge.<br /><br />Defense attorneys tell me that Adolfo Davis himself assumes responsibility for participating in a robbery that turned into a shooting by the two older teenagers he was with.<br /><br />He was told to act as a look-out, Patricia Soung tells me. Soung is staff attorney at the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy in Los Angeles. She&rsquo;s also co-counsel for Davis and will help represent him at the resentencing hearing today.<br /><br />&ldquo;I believe that he was instructed and peer pressured into a crime that he felt like he couldn&rsquo;t say no to,&rdquo; says Patricia Soung.</p><p>Prosecutors have long scoffed at the description of Davis as a mere lookout. They claim he participated in a revenge killing after one of the older members of his gang got slapped. And prior to the crime, they say, Davis discussed with his co-defendants, who should live and who should die.</p><p>&ldquo;He was an active participant in the planning, as well as in the shooting and killing,&rdquo; said Alan Spellberg, supervisor of the criminal appeals division for the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s Office.</p><p>It&rsquo;s important to note that these comments from Alan Spellberg are from years ago. Today, his office can&rsquo;t talk to the media about Adolfo Davis. That&rsquo;s because Davis&rsquo; case is now pending.&nbsp; But in the past, Spellberg did talk to me about it and he said, &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t determine for sure that he fired the gun that killed either of the victims. But we do know from the physical evidence that three different guns were fired at the time.&rdquo;<br /><br />Patricia Soung disputes this entirely. &ldquo;That conclusion is just not supportable,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;The evidence showed that there were two kinds of bullets found in the victims.&rdquo;<br /><br />The two murders and two attempted murders took place in a drug house &mdash; a South Side apartment where drugs were sold and guns were stashed. Detectives found a third type of bullet embedded in a windowsill at the crime scene. But at trial, Soung says, a ballistics expert testified that it was impossible to determine the age of that bullet.<br /><br />&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know when that bullet was lodged in the windowsill,&rdquo; says Soung. &ldquo;It could have been lodged there any time and there&rsquo;s nothing to show that it was shot from a gun on the night that the shooting take place in this case.&rdquo;<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Accountability is key</span></p><p>In that conversation with Alan Spellberg from years ago, he pointed out that whether Adolfo Davis actually shot someone that night really isn&rsquo;t so critical.<br /><br />&ldquo;Under the law it didn&rsquo;t matter who the shooter was,&rdquo; Spellberg told me at the time. &ldquo;Because if Adolfo Davis was an active participant in the crime and in the planning,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;he was just as responsible for the murder, whether or not he fired the fatal bullet or not.&rdquo;<br /><br />That&rsquo;s because of this thing in the law called &ldquo;accountability theory.&rdquo;<br /><br />Accountability is the legal theory that a person can be held responsible for the behavior of others if he or she was an active participant in the planning or committing of a crime.<br /><br />There&rsquo;s no way to know for sure if Adolfo Davis was convicted via accountability theory. But there are clues that he was.<br /><br />For one,&nbsp; instructions on accountability (and other theories) were given to jurors, as they were preparing to deliberate.<br /><br />Additionally, during deliberation, jurors passed this note out to the judge:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LSP-Notefromjurors.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Note submitted to the judge while the jury was deliberating a verdict at Adolfo Davis' trial. In answer to the question asking if a Defendant actually has to be proven to pull the trigger of the murder weapon during a home invasion, the judge answered: 'No, period.' In answer to the question asking if that person would be legally responsible for the conduct of another who did, the judge answered 'yes.'" /></div><p><br />They asked if a defendant actually has to be proven to pull the trigger of the murder weapon during a home invasion? The judge answered: &ldquo;No, period.&rdquo; And jurors asked if that person (presumably the defendant) would be legally responsible for the conduct of another who did? The judge answered &ldquo;yes.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A Stateville visit</span><br /><br />A couple of years ago I went to the sprawling Stateville Correctional Facility to talk to Adolfo Davis for a second time.<br /><br />Adolfo Davis knew this facility well. At 17, when he was first transferred there from Joliet youth prison, he was the youngest person in the general population, he tells me.<br /><br />I wasn&rsquo;t surprised to learn that at the time of his arrest &mdash; when he had barely turned 14 &mdash; Davis didn&rsquo;t understand the nuances of accountability theory.<br /><br />Adolfo Davis told me that after the crime he wasn&rsquo;t even trying to hide from police. In his young mind he hadn&rsquo;t done anything seriously wrong.<br /><br />Police had come to the house looking for Davis and when he got home Fannie, called them.<br /><br />&ldquo;My grandmother called the police because I honestly think I didn&rsquo;t do nothing,&rdquo; says Davis. &ldquo;I was like &lsquo;I ain&rsquo;t kill nobody, I&rsquo;m cool.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis pauses. And says, &ldquo;But it didn&rsquo;t work out that way.&rdquo;<br /><br />It didn&rsquo;t work out that way because the jury found him guilty.<br /><br />And it didn&rsquo;t work out that way in part because of the times. It was the early 1990&rsquo;s.<br /><br />&ldquo;It was a time,&rdquo; Shobha Mahadev tells me &rdquo;when criminologists were promoting the notion that there was going to be a wave of juvenile super predators &mdash; that the sky was falling &mdash; that we were about to see a generation of young people who would wreak havoc on our cities and put us in fear.&ldquo;<br /><br />Mahadev is an assistant professor of law at Northwestern&rsquo;s Children and Family Justice Center. She says the super predator idea is now widely considered to have been a myth.<br /><br />Legislatures across the country were creating laws, Mahadev asserts, that expanded the chance of juveniles being treated as adults in the criminal system.<br /><br />And that&rsquo;s what happened to Davis.<br /><br />The legal event that probably most contributed to Davis&rsquo; life without parole sentence was a proceeding called a transfer hearing. Should Adolfo Davis be tried in juvenile court where he could get a sentence of only a few years?&nbsp;Would that be enough time for him to turn his life around? Or should he be tried in adult court?<br /><br />At the transfer hearing Adolfo Davis&rsquo; probation officer testified, saying he favored Davis going into the adult system. He described him as &ldquo;a very sick child.&rdquo; He testified that in his opinion a few years in juvenile prison would not be sufficient to handle the severity of his problems.</p><p>The probation officer said he believed there would be facilities in the adult system that could offer treatment and rehabilitation to Adolfo Davis. And he saw that as important because he saw Davis as not only a threat to the public, but also a threat to himself.</p><p>This probation officer, by the way, had warned DCFS to place Davis in a structured secure facility, but not to put him in a temporary shelter because he would run away and he wouldn&rsquo;t be able to get the intensive evaluations he needed.</p><p>DCFS did exactly what the probation officer said not to do. And Adolfo Davis ran away. That happened just a few days before the murders took place.</p><p>Davis&rsquo; lawyer tried to ask the probation officer if he thought Davis needed to be in prison for the rest of his life. And she said that if convicted of double homicide, Davis would get a sentence of natural life.</p><p>The judge asked if the prosecutor agreed, because if so &ldquo;we have to get that in the record.&rdquo;</p><p>The prosecutor answered: &ldquo;No, judge, that is not what the law is.&rdquo; And the judge said they&rsquo;d get to it later.</p><p>The defense attorney was not able to ask the probation officer if he understood that a transfer to adult court could result in life without parole for Davis.</p><p>Davis was transferred to adult court.</p><p>The judge at that time observed that in some ways Davis had &ldquo;fallen through the cracks.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">A chaotic family life&nbsp;</span></p><p>His grandmother loved him dearly but DCFS records say she couldn&rsquo;t provide the structure he needed.<br /><br />&ldquo;Because my grandmother taking care of everybody else, and everybody got their little checks and buy drugs with it,&rdquo; Davis says. &ldquo;People would do what they want with that money. Instead of putting food in the house.&rdquo;<br /><br />Davis claims that at an early age he&rsquo;d pump gas for people in exchange for a bit of change. And he says sometimes at the end of the day he and his friends would go hang out at a Dunkin Donuts or a Kentucky Fried Chicken, to snare food that was being thrown out in the dumpsters.<br /><br />By 10 years old, Davis had committed his first robbery and he joined a gang at about 11, he says. After that his crime life escalated to stealing cars, shoplifting, burglary, theft, possession of marijuana and armed robbery.<br /><br />About 10 months before the double murder, Davis used a knife to commit two robberies on a single day. Records say he went through the pockets of his victims and netted $3 in one instance and $2 in another.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Mandatory life without parole</span></p><p>When Adolfo Davis was found guilty in adult court- by statute, the judge had no choice but to sentence him to life without parole.<br /><br />&ldquo;Under the statute that I got convicted of, it says if you get convicted of two murders without a reasonable doubt &mdash; you get natural life,&rdquo; Davis tells me. &ldquo;Now if I would have got convicted of another statute, I might would not have got this time. So that&rsquo;s the reason why I have been given life. And that&rsquo;s the reason why so much is being talked about the statute now is because you ain&rsquo;t giving the judge the discretion to evaluate you and say no, he don&rsquo;t deserve no natural life.&quot;<br /><br />It gradually dawned on Davis that he really would spend his entire life in prison, and that he would die there &ndash; and he became despondent, rebellious, and at times suicidal.<br /><br />&ldquo;I honestly felt for years like man, I felt so angry,&rdquo; says Davis. &ldquo;Like man I ain&rsquo;t did nothing. But when I faced reality I was like &mdash; I did do something.&rdquo;</p><p>In adulthood, Adolfo Davis says he has come to terms with his responsibility for the role he played in this massive crime. I ask if he ever thinks about the people who got killed.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, all the time,&rdquo; he says. Especially about one of the victims, who he knew well. &ldquo;Little Keith. man, I had memories with him when we was going to school together. We used to take the lunch trays and at the school, go up on top of the roof and just eat and just kick it.&nbsp; We used to steal cars together. We used to go to hustle together,&rsquo;&rdquo; Davis says. He says Little Keith was one of his best friends.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">The beginnings of maturity</span></p><p>Davis began to become more mature and to renounce his gang affiliation in an unlikely place.</p><p>After many behavioral tickets for fighting and other disruptive behaviors in prison, at 21 Davis was transferred to Tamms Supermax Prison, just a month after it opened.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LSP-Jill-Stevens-A.jpg" style="height: 201px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="For over 4 years, Jill Stevens was Adolfo Davis' therapist at Tamms Supermax Prison. 'I feel confident that the vast majority of people on the street would agree that a 14 year old who has not killed anyone — he should not be in prison for his entire life without even the possibility of going before a parole board,' Stevens said at Davis' clemency hearing in April of 2012." />That&rsquo;s where he met licensed clinical counselor Jill Stevens, who was his therapist for over four years. Adolfo Davis was unique she says, in terms of&nbsp; maintaining a positive attitude in spite of coming from such a &ldquo;hideous&rdquo; background. His drive to help other kids not make the same mistakes he had, impressed her.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s so sad to me that this is somebody who.. yeah, he slipped through the cracks of that family,&rdquo; Stevens says, &ldquo;and&nbsp; they were big cracks. Then he slipped through the cracks of social services &mdash; and juvenile justice systems.&rdquo;</p><p>Jill Stevens&rsquo; view of Davis contrasts sharply with the picture painted of him at a clemency hearing back in April of 2012. Adolfo Davis had asked Gov. Pat&nbsp; Quinn for a pardon and Assistant State&rsquo;s Attorney Diane Sheridan argued sharply against it: &ldquo;Defendant was a full-fledged, gun-toting, planning out, methodical sophisticated beyond his years, cold-blooded killer,&rdquo; Sheridan said.<br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Resentencing hearings, case by case</span><br /><br />Today is the first of what will be scores of resentencing hearings in Cook County, stemming from the Miller decision. In these cases prosecutors say they will not automatically take the view that each defendant should receive the most severe sentence possible.<br /><br />Alan Spellberg of the Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney&rsquo;s office tells me that they will consider the effect on victims, the effect on the community and all the factors delineated in the Miller decision. &ldquo;And so we&rsquo;re going to consider each and every single factor independently and individually in every single case,&rdquo; Spellberg says.<br /><br />Meanwhile in this case defense lawyers plan to present a flurry of witnesses who will testify that Adolfo Davis the man, is transformed. He&rsquo;s nothing like that 14 year old who participated in a gruesome crime almost 25 years ago.<br />&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/addolfo%20diplomasedited.jpg" style="height: 299px; width: 620px;" title="Adolfo Davis' high school diploma &amp; other academic certificates" /></div><p><br />While waiting for a verdict Davis was locked up in what used to be called the Audy Home, Cook County&rsquo;s jail for kids. He attended school and had three&nbsp; meals per day At first he acted out a lot. But over time, he thrived. Davis&rsquo; lawyers have shown me written evaluations that praise Davis&rsquo; progress.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s important to note &mdash; all that improvement happened prior to Davis even receiving his mandatory sentence of life without parole.<br /><br />But is proof of rehabilitation enough? Not necessarily. Because penological goals are varied. And sentences need to consider both retribution and rehabilitation. And other factors too.<br /><br />Northwestern University&rsquo;s Shobha Mahadev says the Supreme Court has been trying to impress on courts that: &ldquo;Children are different and their rehabilitation and their ability to grow and change into different people than they were at the time of their childhood is what is paramount here.&rdquo;</p><p>In some ways these resentencing hearings offer a unique moment. Maybe even an unprecedented moment.<br /><br />Because judges get a do-over. They&rsquo;re not examining whether rehabilitation is possible. They&rsquo;re seeing whether it became a reality.</p></p> Mon, 13 Apr 2015 08:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/locked-14-adolfo-davis-gets-chance-new-sentence-111863 More people moved away from Illinois last year than any other state http://www.wbez.org/news/more-people-moved-away-illinois-last-year-any-other-state-111776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/illinois road sign.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois had the biggest decrease in population according to a new report from the Census Bureau.</p><p>Between July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014, the state lost 9,972 people. On the other end, Texas saw the largest population increase adding more than 450,000 people during that time.</p><p>Cook County saw a very slight decrease in population. It&rsquo;s one of four counties with a population of more than 1 million to experience a decrease. Others include industrial counties like Wayne County, Michigan; Cuyahoga, Ohio; and Allegheny, Pennsylvania.</p><p>The rate of people leaving Cook County for other counties has been increasing since 2012. More than 48,600 people left over the 2013-2014 timeframe.</p><p>P.S. Sriraj is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.</p><p>He says in the past, people of low income populated in the city center, like Chicago. Now, that population is moving out to the suburbs and collar counties.</p><p>&ldquo;Those reasons are typically tied to employment&mdash;proximity to employment. Could also be tied to crime, crime rate in the city versus the suburbs. And it&rsquo;s also a direct correlation to quality of education,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Kendall and Will counties saw some of the biggest population gains in the state.</p><p>The birth rate has decreased in Cook County, while the death rate increased. Yet Cook County&rsquo;s overall population has held mostly steady. That&rsquo;s in part due to the number of people migrating here from other countries. More than 48,600 people immigrated to Cook County from other countries last year.</p><p>&ldquo;If you look at the pattern of immigrants coming to the country, their first stop has always been the larger city,&rdquo; Sriraj said. &ldquo;Once they acclimatize to the culture and surroundings, they find a foothold in suburban locations. That&rsquo;s typical.&rdquo;</p><p>He says those international arrivals could eventually be part of that exodus to the collar counties.</p><p>Overall, across Illinois, more counties dipped in population than gained. Metro areas with the highest unemployment rate, like Decatur, Danville, Kankakee and Rockford, also saw the highest population decrease for the state.</p><p><em>Susie An is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/soosieon" target="_blank">@soosieon</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/more-people-moved-away-illinois-last-year-any-other-state-111776 Cook County demands payment from state for kids left waiting in jail http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-demands-payment-state-kids-left-waiting-jail-111702 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/JTDC Juvenile 4_WBEZ_Bill Healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For the first time ever, Cook County is sending a bill to the State of Illinois for the cost of holding state wards left waiting at the juvenile jail by the Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p>The decision to demand reimbursement is part of a larger push back by the county against the human and financial costs of the failures of the state&rsquo;s child welfare agency.</p><p>It comes after a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-child-welfare-system-leaves-kids-stuck-jail-111576">recent WBEZ investigation</a> found that the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) routinely leaves hundreds of kids stuck behind bars for weeks, or even months, after a judge has said they can go home. Because they are wards of the state, the kids can&rsquo;t leave the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center until the department finds them proper placement.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/federal-judge-takes-action-kids-left-jail-after-wbez-investigates-111680">Federal Judge takes action on kids left in jail by DCFS</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;The message is that we don&rsquo;t care about them, and that we think their liberty isn&rsquo;t an important issue. And I think that&rsquo;s a terrible message to send to young people,&rdquo; said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>And Preckwinkle said it&rsquo;s a financial burden for the county.</p><p>&ldquo;The obligation of every executive is to run their unit of government to the best of your ability. And that means you don&rsquo;t cost-shift your financial obligations and burdens,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Preckwinkle said the impact on children is her main concern, &ldquo;but the money is not a trivial matter either.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Preckwinkle said she is glad to hear that outgoing Cook County Juvenile Detention Center administrator Earl Dunlap is sending a bill to the state.</p><p>&ldquo;And I&rsquo;d be happy to second the motion,&rdquo; Preckwinkle said.</p><p>The invoice being sent to DCFS covers just two months&mdash;December and January&mdash;and it comes to $232,750.</p><p>The invoice is for 41 DCFS wards who spent a combined 665 days in jail after a judge told them they were free to go.</p><p>The juvenile jail is in Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele&rsquo;s district. And he recognizes that at that rate, the cost could amount to $1.5 million a year.</p><p>&ldquo;So that&rsquo;s a huge burden to Cook County and its taxpayers,&rdquo; Steele said.</p><p>Along with the invoice is <a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/258641119/Letter-from-Earl-Dunlap-to-DCFS" target="_blank">a letter from juvenile jail administrator Dunlap to DCFS Director George Sheldon</a>. In it, Dunlap blasts the department for the &ldquo;agency&rsquo;s willful disregard to juveniles&rsquo; constitutional rights.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Prolonged stays at [the juvenile jail] for children awaiting DCFS placement &hellip; can cause lasting damage to a youth,&rdquo; Dunlap wrote.</p><p>Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans oversees the juvenile jail. He said he&rsquo;s not particularly concerned about which agency foots the bill.</p><p>&ldquo;The counties pull from the same taxpayers that pay the taxes on a statewide basis, so the main thing is that we don&rsquo;t want taxpayers to have to pay for anything unnecessarily,&rdquo; Evans said.</p><p>WBEZ interviewed Evans in late February. He said on the day of the interview there were 12 state wards in the juvenile jail waiting on DCFS.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of them are suffering already &hellip; many of them, they&rsquo;ve been abused and neglected on one side and then they engage in some delinquent conduct on the other side. And so they&rsquo;re already subjected to trauma in many instances and having them stay longer in a place they shouldn&rsquo;t be in just exacerbates the problem,&rdquo; Evans said.</p><p>DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says his department has not yet received the invoice. But he&rsquo;s acknowledged the issue, and said he believes the agency&rsquo;s new leader will bring stability to the department.</p><p>&ldquo;The governor has made it a priority to help turn the agency around, and that&rsquo;s bringing someone in like Director George Sheldon &hellip;&nbsp; to help us get the job done,&rdquo; Flach said.</p><p>Cook County&rsquo;s demand for repayment comes at a particularly bad time for the state government. Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling for massive cuts to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap.</p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">Patrick Smith</a> is a WBEZ producer and reporter.</em></p></p> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 06:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-demands-payment-state-kids-left-waiting-jail-111702 Illinois' child welfare system leaves kids stuck in jail http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-child-welfare-system-leaves-kids-stuck-jail-111576 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202015-02-17%20at%207.25.53%20PM.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Youth at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center at an event in 2014. A WBEZ investigation found that kids spend weeks, or even months, in the jail because DCFS can’t find a place for them to live. (Photo courtesy of Bill Healy)" /></div><p>There&rsquo;s a kid in the Cook County juvenile jail right now who isn&rsquo;t supposed to be there. A judge ordered his release on January 29.</p><p>Because he is a juvenile, WBEZ isn&rsquo;t using his name, but his problem is not unique. Even after a judge has ordered their release, lots of kids wait weeks, even months to be picked up.</p><p>Their deadbeat guardian is the State of Illinois, and these kids are stuck in juvenile jail because the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can&rsquo;t find a place to put them.</p><p>A WBEZ analysis of data from Cook County found that in the three-year period between October 2011 and October 2014, there were 344 instances when kids waited a week or more in the jail for DCFS to come pick them up.</p><p>Last year the longest wait was 190 days&mdash;more than half the year.</p><p>And it&rsquo;s not just that there are a lot of young people waiting. They are waiting specifically because of the failures of DCFS.</p><p>Kids get sent to the juvenile jail for a number of reasons. Some are waiting for trial, others are serving a punishment. No matter who they are or why they&rsquo;re there, kids can&rsquo;t leave unless someone comes to take custody of them.</p><p>The data doesn&rsquo;t account for how many of the 344 times involved the same kid held more than once, so to check on daily counts, we asked jail staff to give us a snapshot of every kid who was waiting to be picked up. On the day we asked, Oct. 16, 2014, there were 19 kids in the jail who had been ordered released by a judge and were just waiting on a guardian to pick them up.</p><p>Thirteen were waiting for DCFS.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it sends a very disturbing message to a child to say there&rsquo;s no reason for you to be held in detention, but we&rsquo;re not working hard enough, or we&rsquo;re not making you enough of a priority to find a place for you to go,&rdquo; said Bruce Boyer, the director of the Civitas Childlaw Clinic at Loyola University Chicago.</p><p>&rdquo;We&rsquo;re talking about children that a judge has looked at their case and said, &lsquo;There&rsquo;s no risk here. This child should be at home or in a community based setting, whether it&rsquo;s a foster home or somewhere else.&rsquo; So, that&rsquo;s incredibly disruptive to the child,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antoine Brown has lived through that disruption.</p><p>Brown is 25 now and lives in Marion, Illinois. But when he was 14, Brown spent about six months in Cook County&rsquo;s juvenile jail waiting for DCFS to find him a bed.</p><p>&ldquo;It kinda like crushes your spirit so you&rsquo;ll be like ... I don&rsquo;t care anymore so I&rsquo;m just gonna act out and do whatever I want to do,&rdquo; Brown said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s hell. I mean, if you&rsquo;re not a cool person then you get picked on.&rdquo;</p><p>Jennifer Vollen Katz with prison watchdog John Howard Association says Brown&rsquo;s frustration is typical for kids stuck in jail.</p><p>&ldquo;You will see the behavior begin to deteriorate, because that&rsquo;s just an incredibly high level of frustration for a young person to grapple with,&rdquo; Vollen Katz said.</p><p>Vollen Katz says that&rsquo;s especially bad because this is a population at a crucial point. The choices they&mdash;and their caregivers&mdash;make will decide if these kids move on from a troubled childhood to become successful adults, or get stuck in the so-called prison pipeline.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202015-02-17%20at%207.26.47%20PM.png" style="height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="The outside of the Cook County juvenile jail at Roosevelt and Hamilton. (Photo courtesy of Bill Healy)" /></div><p>&ldquo;The system has failed them time and again, so for the system to tell them, if you do this then you&rsquo;re gonna get to go and for that not to actually happen, I think is just another indicator that trusting authority is probably not a safe bet for some of these kids,&quot; Vollen Katz said. &quot;And that&rsquo;s not a message we want to be giving them.&quot;</p><p>Boyer says many of the kids forced to wait have been in the child care system for most of their lives. Often they&rsquo;ve been abused or neglected, passed from foster home to foster home.</p><p>That means most of these young men and women truly have special needs.</p><p>&ldquo;These are the needs that really require treatment, whether it&rsquo;s counseling or other kinds of services. And these are the sorts of things that frankly are just not available in the detention center,&rdquo; Boyer said.</p><p>DCFS spokesman Andrew Flach says the department is aware of kids languishing in jail, but right now the department isn&rsquo;t planning any changes to fix it.</p><p>Flach says more money would help, but the state also needs more well-run residential treatment centers able to care for these children.</p><p>Flach believes leadership from new Director George Sheldon will eventually fix problems like kids waiting in jail.</p><p>Loyola&rsquo;s Bruce Boyer says the best way to address the problem is to keep kids out of jail in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;If we had resources for dealing with kids who get into conflict with the law, that would allow us to find placements in the community for them that would be a lot less expensive than maintaining kids in a very expensive detention facility,&rdquo; Boyer said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know how we break out of this cycle, but we have to figure out a way &hellip; to be more farsighted.&rdquo;</p><p>Cook County estimates that it costs more than $500 a day to house one person in the juvenile temporary detention center.</p><p>And those instances when kids waited a week or more&mdash;the time they spent waiting on DCFS adds up to more than 7,300 days in Cook County juvenile jail.</p><p>That&rsquo;s almost $4 million taxpayer dollars spent over three years.</p><p>And for all that money, the kids didn&rsquo;t get special counseling or intensive therapy. Instead, they got all the wrong lessons about the justice system, and a pretty direct message that they don&rsquo;t matter. At least not enough.</p><p><em><a href="http://twitter.com/pksmid" target="_blank">Patrick Smith</a> is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Angela Caputo also contributed reporting for this story.</em></p></p> Tue, 17 Feb 2015 19:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-child-welfare-system-leaves-kids-stuck-jail-111576 Unions sue to stop Chicago pension overhaul http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-sue-stop-chicago-pension-overhaul-111239 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/city hall chicago flickr daniel x o nell.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Current and retired city workers and their labor unions have filed a lawsuit arguing a law overhauling Chicago&#39;s pension systems is unconstitutional.</p><p>The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court also asks a judge to stop the law from taking effect Jan. 1.</p><p>Chicago has the worst-funded pension system of any major U.S. city.</p><p>Legislation approved last year seeks to eliminate a $9.4 billion unfunded liability in two pension systems by increasing contributions and cutting benefits. It would affect about 57,000 laborers and municipal employees.</p><p>The plaintiffs are 12 current and former workers and four unions, including AFSCME Council 31 and the Illinois Nurses Association.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the law is constitutional. He says the changes are needed to ensure pension funds remain solvent and retirees receive benefits.</p></p> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-sue-stop-chicago-pension-overhaul-111239 Community prosecutions credited with drop in crime http://www.wbez.org/news/community-prosecutions-credited-drop-crime-110582 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Uptown theater_flickr_BWChicago.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Placing prosecutors in a neighborhood instead of a courtroom is a different kind of &quot;law and order.&quot; A University of Chicago law professor says his research shows community prosecution has had an immediate and measurable impact on violent crime.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/07/31/336765946/community-prosecutions-credited-with-drops-in-crime?ft=1&amp;f=" target="_blank">hear the story from NPR&#39;s Morning Edition</a></em></p></p> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/community-prosecutions-credited-drop-crime-110582 Burying Cook County's unclaimed dead http://www.wbez.org/news/burying-cook-countys-unclaimed-dead-110092 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Burial 1.2.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Jesse Aguirre’s family could not afford a funeral and so they left his body at Cook County’s morgue. The county buried him this spring." />In a corner of Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago&rsquo;s far north side, wooden sawhorses and orange plastic cones sat as if part of a construction zone. But then, several hearses drove-up and 23 adult coffins were placed on the sawhorses.</p><p>Cook County usually buries unclaimed bodies in the warm months, when the ground is soft and burials are easier. The burials include many people whose families cannot afford funerals.</p><p>Jesse Aguirre clutched a handful of flowers. He walked up to a man with a clipboard and asked which car was carrying his father, also named Jesse Aguirre. The man pointed. The Aguirre family watched as a plain wooden box was pulled out of the hearse.</p><p>&ldquo;He passed four days before Christmas, so December 21st,&rdquo; says Jesse of his dead father.</p><p>The family has been waiting four months to bury Jesse Aguirre. They say they did not claim the body because they couldn&rsquo;t afford a funeral.</p><p>Jessica Aguirre is wearing a t-shirt with her grandfather&rsquo;s birth and death date on it and a picture of him, beaming. &ldquo;He was a great guy. Always smiling,&rdquo; she said.&nbsp;</p><p>Jessica said she was heartbroken when her family could not bury her grandfather. &ldquo;I was waiting and waiting and waiting. (I was) actually trying to work as much as I could so I wouldn&rsquo;t accept that he was gone,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Jessica said it was not until she saw her grandfather put in the ground, that she finally accepted his death. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s going to be here, so I can always come and visit him,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Aguirre family hugged county staff and thanked them. The burial was the result of a collaboration that started in a dark time for the Cook County Medical Examiners Office. About two years ago, media reported that the morgue was overcrowded. Bodies were stacked on top of one another and the remains of stillborn babies were tossed into boxes.</p><p>Marty Flagg, Vice-President of the Cook County Funeral Directors Association, saw pictures on the news. &ldquo;The first thing that ran through my mind was &lsquo;some action needs to be taken for these people to get them buried.&rsquo; And immediately I picked up the phone and called a couple of other members of Cook County Funeral Association and said &lsquo;I got an idea&rsquo;&rdquo;.&nbsp;</p><p>Flagg proposed that funeral directors volunteer their services.&nbsp; At the same time, the Archdiocese of Chicago decided to donate funeral plots. Roman Szabelski is with Catholic Cemeteries. &ldquo;There is an old quote, I wish I memorized more of it, it said, &lsquo;See how a community treats their dead and you will learn a lot about that country,&rdquo; said Szabelski.</p><p>The Funeral Directors Association and Catholic Cemeteries have buried about 200 people over the last two years. But this is the last burial with the donated plots. Burials will continue at Homewood Memorial Gardens Cemetery where the county has a contract.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Burial%202.1.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Jesse Aguirre’s family could not afford a funeral and so they left his body at Cook County’s morgue. The county buried him this spring. (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" />Homewood also came under attack a few years ago for mishandling indigent burials.<br />But the county says a lot has changed since then.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we are changing all our processes and looking at them very carefully,&rdquo; said James Sledge, Executive Officer at Cook County&rsquo;s Medical Examiners Office.</p><p>The county has a purchased a new cooler and passed an ordinance that allows cremation. Cremation may save the county money and prevent overcrowding in the future, but so far, few bodies have been cremated. &ldquo;At the moment, burial is still the preferred method for everyone in Cook County,&rdquo; said Sledge.</p><p>The county says it will not creamate any unidentified bodies because someone could eventually claim them, or they could be needed in an investigation. Their website currently lists 36 unidentified remains-- a man with tattoos of wings found in an abandoned building and a young female found in a parking lot are among those listed.</p><p>Sometimes, the public website has pictures of the bodies to help identify them. The site also lists the names of 83 people who have been identified but are unclaimed.</p><p>Most of the time loved ones do not show up for the burials. But today, each body has a volunteer, usually a funeral director, who will stay until the body is buried. Chrissy Knauer Fisk works at a funeral vault company and volunteered to accompany Roberta Hall&rsquo;s body. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m honored to be Roberta&rsquo;s person,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Knauer Fisk stands with her hand on the coffin. A truck comes and lowers the body into the ground. Knauer Fisk looks around and tries to memorize the location. The only thing she knows about Roberta Hall is her name. But Knauer Fisk says she plans to come visit. She said, &ldquo;She has to have someone, why not me?&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan covers policy and social service issues for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/burying-cook-countys-unclaimed-dead-110092 Judge allows same-sex couples to marry in Cook County starting now http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/judge-allows-same-sex-couples-marry-cook-county-starting-now-109751 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP935573141163.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A federal judge is allowing same-sex couples to get married in Cook County, starting immediately.</p><p>Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman&rsquo;s ruling, issued this morning, applies only to Cook County, Illinois&rsquo; most populous county, which includes the city of Chicago.</p><p>Coleman&rsquo;s written order says couples should not have to wait for a state law, passed last year, to go into effect. The measure passed by the legislature and signed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn set June 1 as the date on which same-sex couples could legally marry in Illinois.</p><p>Coleman wrote, &ldquo;Committed gay and lesbian couples have already suffered from the denial of their fundamental right to marry.&rdquo;</p><p>She also quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. writing, &ldquo;The time is always ripe to do right.&rdquo;</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit against the Cook County Clerk on behalf of a handful of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry immediately.</p><p>County Clerk David Orr was the state officer formally listed as the defendant. But because Orr supports same-sex marriage, there was no opposition to the lawsuit, and he moved promptly to announce and put the order into effect.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re thrilled that Judge Coleman recognized the serious harm to the many Illinois families from continuing to deny them the freedom to marry,&rdquo; said John Knight, LGBT and AIDS Project Director for the ACLU of Illinois. &ldquo;The U.S. Constitution guarantees these families the personal and emotional benefits as well as the critical legal protections of marriage now, and we are thankful that the court extended this dignity to couples immediately.&rdquo;</p><p>Couples in Cook County must wait a day after getting a license before they can be married.</p><p>Meantime, county clerks in the rest of Illinois are waiting to see if the ruling applies to them as well. Coleman wrote in her ruling, &ldquo;Although this Court finds that the marriage ban for same-sex couples violates the Fourteenth Amendment&rsquo;s Equal Protection Clause on its face, this finding can only apply to Cook County based upon the posture of the lawsuit.&rdquo;</p><p>Katherine Schultz -- clerk of McHenry County in Chicago&rsquo;s outer northwest suburbs -- said she&rsquo;s waiting for June 1 to issue marriage licenses until told specifically otherwise.</p><p>&ldquo;Until there is something more definite given to McHenry County, and I would assume other outlying counties, we will go by what the state statute says,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Schultz said that even if she were ordered to start granting marriage licenses to gay couples, she doesn&rsquo;t have the right state forms yet.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p><p dir="ltr"><em>Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 12:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/judge-allows-same-sex-couples-marry-cook-county-starting-now-109751 Cook County morgue gets new cooler, hires workers http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-morgue-gets-new-cooler-hires-workers-109699 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/morgue.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>The Cook County Medical Examiner&#39;s office says conditions are improving at the morgue thanks to more employees and a new $1.4 million cooler.</p><p>Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina offered media a look at the cooler on Thursday.</p><p>The event was meant to show how much the office has improved 18 months after a string of embarrassing news stories about bodies bing stacked haphazardly and the remains of stillborn babies tossed into boxes.</p><p>Officials noted that improvements included the hiring of nearly two dozen employees in addition to the cooler.</p><p>Cina was hired in 2012 to replace the former medical examiner, who retired when Preckwinkle announced that she would overhaul the office.</p><p>Cina was chief administrator at the University of Miami&#39;s Tissue Bank.</p></p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-morgue-gets-new-cooler-hires-workers-109699