WBEZ | Cook County http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talks tax hikes http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-12/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-talks-tax-hikes <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/preckwinkle wbez file.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On January 1, residents of Cook County will start paying more in sales tax. The increase was the brainchild of <a href="https://twitter.com/cookcountyboard">Cook County Board</a> President <a href="https://twitter.com/tonipreckwinkle">Toni Preckwinkle</a>, who says the move is necessary to raise about $500 million a year. Now, she says the county is faced with another choice: Either cut 200 jobs, or raise the hotel tax to raise another $20 million.</p><p>Preckwinkle joins us to talk through that proposal and the financial outlook for the county.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 12 Nov 2015 12:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-11-12/cook-county-board-president-toni-preckwinkle-talks-tax-hikes Cook County Democrats choose not to endorse in two big races http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 <p><p>Anybody who thinks the old way of Chicago politics is fading, hasn&rsquo;t been by the Erie Cafe this week.</p><p>All day Tuesday, and most of the day Wednesday, 80 Cook County Democratic heavyweights &mdash; including familiar names like Burke, Madigan and Berrios &mdash; came together to eat donuts, drink coffee and battle it out over which candidates deserve the party&rsquo;s endorsement&nbsp;for the upcoming March 2016 primary.</p><p>This time around, the party decided not to endorse in two big races: Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney and the U.S. Senate, currently occupied by Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>The committeemen set up shop in an actual back room at the Erie Cafe, after many years at Hotel Allegro &mdash; word is, the old spot raised its rates. The leaders of the party sit at a table covered with a white tablecloth, with procedural books on Robert&rsquo;s Rules of Order and the Chicago election code in arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>The room was smoke free, though someone passed around wrapped cigars at one point.</p><p>Candidates sit outside the meeting room like students waiting outside the principal&rsquo;s office. They&rsquo;re called to the podium one by one, where they stump for jobs like Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner.</p><p>The names on this years ballot range from the not-very-well known, like Wallace Davis III, to the incredibly familiar, like former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who is now running for a two-year term as a water district commissioner.</p><p>A few committeemen stood up to praise Stroger &mdash; Alderman Walter Burnett said Stroger had received a &ldquo;bum wrap and deserves another opportunity&rdquo; &mdash; but in the end, the party decided to endorse tech entrepreneur Tom Greenhaw instead.</p><p>It&rsquo;s no secret that a lot of committeemen already know who they&rsquo;ll back before they walk into the slating meeting, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean the candidates don&rsquo;t take the process seriously.</p><p>On Tuesday, one candidate arrived at the podium, red in the face with nerves. Another brought up a bright magenta note card with a huge smiley face on it, to correct what she called her &ldquo;Resting B-face. I have a not-friendly resting face.&rdquo;</p><p>But a lot of the real action happens after the speeches, behind a thick wooden door, where committeemen defend their picks to their colleagues. One aldermen left Tuesday&rsquo;s closed session muttering under his breath that he fought like hell.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/219999051&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>This year, much of the back and forth was about the candidates for Cook County&rsquo;s State&rsquo;s Attorney and U.S. Senate. While there are four candidates for State&rsquo;s Attorney, committeemen said the room was split between incumbent Anita Alvarez and Kim Foxx, former Chief of Staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.</p><p>In the Senate race, five candidates were vying for the party&rsquo;s endorsement. U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth tried to convince members that she was their best hope at unseating Republican Senator Mark Kirk.</p><p>&ldquo;I take a lot of his positives off the table and focus it on the issues. He&rsquo;s not going to be able to rest on his military record with me,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s not gonna be able to play the sympathy vote and say &lsquo;you know, because I recovered from my illness, I understand better what it&rsquo;s like for people to recover.&rsquo; Well, I can talk about recovery and I can say then, &lsquo;why do you want to cut back on Medicaid and Medicare?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Another familiar candidate, Andrea Zopp, former head of the Chicago Urban League, told committeemen that she had the best chance of reaching voters all across the state.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m the only candidate with the resources that will be there to bring out minority voters, to get them excited into this race we need them for all of our ticket,&rdquo; Zopp said.</p><p>But in the end, the party decided not to endorse anyone in the Senate race. A party spokesman said that&rsquo;s become more common lately, as more and more candidates figure out the best ways to lobby committeemen before the meetings begin.</p><p>But one Chicago ward committeeman said he&rsquo;s concerned over the trouble this could cause for Democratic fundraising for the upcoming primary, as he said there is a very large &ldquo;elephant in the room&rdquo; through all of these election discussions: The seemingly infinite financial resources of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Full Cook County Democratic Party Slating</span></p><p><strong>For President of the United States</strong>: the party endorsed Hillary Clinton</p><p><strong>For Illinois State Comptroller</strong>: the party endorsed Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza</p><p><strong>U.S. Senate</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney</strong>: No endorsement, party votes in favor of open primary</p><p><strong>Clerk of the Circuit Court: </strong>the party endorsed incumbent Dorothy Brown</p><p><strong>Recorder of Deeds:</strong> the party endorsed incumbent Karen Yarborough</p><p><strong>Metropolitan Water Reclamation District</strong>: the party endorsed Barbara McGowan, Mariyana Spyropoulos and Josina Morita for six-year terms, and Tom Greenhaw for a two-year term.</p><p><strong>Appellate Court: </strong>the party endorsed Justice Bertina Lampkin and Judge Eileen O&rsquo;Neill Burke. Those selected as alternates were: Associate Judge William Boyd, Judge Raul Vega and Associate Judge Leonard Murray.</p><p><strong>Cook County Board of Review, 2nd District: </strong>the party endorsed Incumbent Commissioner Michael Cabonargi</p><p><strong>Circuit Court Judge</strong>: the party endorsed Judge Alison Conlon, Judge Daniel Patrick Duffy, Judge Rossana Fernandez, Judge Alexandra Gillespie, Maureen O&rsquo;Donoghue Hannon, Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., Brendan O&rsquo;Brien and Judge Devlin Joseph Schoop. Selected as alternates were: Fredrick Bates, Sean Chaudhuri, Patrick Heneghan, Nichole Patton and Peter Michael Gonzalez.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her</em> <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian.</em></a></p></p> Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-democrats-choose-not-endorse-two-big-races-112687 Attention downtown diners: 11.25 percent sales tax coming in 2016 http://www.wbez.org/news/attention-downtown-diners-1125-percent-sales-tax-coming-2016-112429 <p><p>Ever noticed grabbing a burger in Logan Square is just a bit cheaper than in Lakeview?</p><p>It&rsquo;s because of a little-known sales tax called the &ldquo;McPier tax,&rdquo; that hits a certain segment of the Chicago restaurant scene. Food and beverage purchases in and around the downtown area are taxed an additional 1 percent, which goes to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the group that owns and manages Navy Pier and McCormick Place.</p><p>And next year, the overall sales tax in that zone will grow another percentage point.</p><p>Last week, the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-board-approves-tax-hike-sought-board-president-112397">Cook County board </a>narrowly approved a one-percentage-point tax hike, which will bring the sales tax in Chicago to 10.25 percent, one of the nation&rsquo;s highest. The proposal was introduced by Board President Toni Preckwinkle to help pay into the county&rsquo;s underfunded pensions. Nine board members approved the increase, which will kick in on January 1, 2016.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/mcpiermap.jpg" style="height: 682px; width: 340px; float: left;" title="The boundaries of the so-called 'McPier tax' area. (Courtesy Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority)" />For restaurant patrons that dine south of Diversey Parkway, north of the Stevenson Expressway, east of Ashland Avenue and west of Lake Michigan, the Cook County proposal means an 11.25 percent sales tax will be added to their tab in 2016. <a href="http://tax.illinois.gov/Businesses/TaxInformation/Sales/mpea.htm">The McPier tax</a> affects all food and beverage purchases prepared for &ldquo;immediate consumption,&rdquo; and that includes soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. A spokeswoman for MPEA said all money collected through that tax &ldquo;pay the debt service for MPEA Expansion projects.&rdquo;</p><p>John Corry, general manager of Lincoln Park restaurant <a href="http://www.maevechicago.com/">Maeve,</a> said he isn&rsquo;t against taxes in general, but he has a problem with how far north the McPier zone extends.</p><p>&ldquo;Who&rsquo;s coming to Maeve because somebody has a business meeting by Navy Pier or at McCormick Place?&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;No one is coming [from] these two places, but we&rsquo;re in that tax zone.&rdquo;</p><p>Corry said he&rsquo;d also like to see Wrigley Field or U.S. Cellular Field included in that zone, since tourists at Navy Pier or visitors to McCormick Place likely stop by the ballparks for games while they&rsquo;re in town. &nbsp;</p><p>Meanwhile, Preckwinkle has said that she may reevaluate the county tax hike if Springfield passes <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/preckwinkle-gets-her-pension-plan-past-senate-stops-short-calling-higher-taxes-110240">her pension reform bill</a>.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s Chicago politics reporter. Follow her </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><p><em></em><em>Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the neighborhood Maeve is located in. The restaurant is in Lincoln Park.</em></p></p> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/attention-downtown-diners-1125-percent-sales-tax-coming-2016-112429 Cook County Board approves sales tax hike http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/cook-county-board-approves-sales-tax-hike-112404 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/sales tax Perspecsys Photos.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215012189&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Cook County Board has approved a 1 percentage point sales tax hike in order to keep up with pension payments. Some are calling it the &quot;Toni tax&quot; after board president Toni Preckwinkle. Many businesses and civic leaders across the northwest suburbs in areas close to Lake, Kane, McHenry and DuPage counties are against the increase. They&#39;re concerned that shoppers will simply head over the county line to save money. Elk Grove Village did an analysis that showed it would lose a massive chunk of change if the sales tax increased. We speak with Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson.&nbsp;</span></p></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/cook-county-board-approves-sales-tax-hike-112404 Sheriff's office announces new mental health clinic http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Mental health jail.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-1d687b03-119d-3f9e-cb1c-805194ec9b5e">Cook County Sheriff&rsquo;s office is &nbsp;launching a new mental health clinic in the south suburbs. Sheriff Tom Dart says the clinic is a direct response to government mental health cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">The clinic is already operating at the Markham Courthouse. People detained there will be screened for mental health needs. Some will then be diverted from the jail to the new clinic under court order. The clinic will also be available to people leaving county jail and seeking services.</p><p dir="ltr"><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937" target="_blank">Staff mourn closure of mental health provider C4</a></strong></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If no one else is going to do it, we are going to,&rdquo; said Cara Smith, director of Cook County Jail.</p><p dir="ltr">She says the jail is doing what it can, but it&rsquo;s part of a larger system. She says the millions of dollars in proposed state cuts to mental health would be catastrophic. But if the cuts go through it will not be the first time she&rsquo;s seen services disappear. In 2012 the city cut half its mental health clinics, and just last week one of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">largest mental health providers in Chicago announced it was closing its doors. </a></p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Our custodial population in the jail is almost at a record low. But our population of &nbsp;medically and mentally ill people that need hospital level care is at an all time high,&rdquo; said Smith. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">It is not only the jail that says it has felt a change as services have closed. Emergency Rooms in Chicago saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/large-provider-chicago-mental-health-services-c4-closing-111937">37 percent rise in ER discharges for psychiatric care. </a></p><p>Dart says he chose to open the clinic in the south suburbs because the area is extremely lacking in mental health services. The clinic is run in collaboration with Adler Community Health Services.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 May 2015 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriffs-office-announces-new-mental-health-clinic-111979 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 Judge resentences Adolfo Davis to life in prison http://www.wbez.org/news/judge-resentences-adolfo-davis-life-prison-111863 <p><p><em>Update: May 4, 2015</em></p><p>***</p><p dir="ltr">A Cook County judge has upheld a life without parole sentence for a man who received that sentence for his part in a double murder when he was 14.</p><p dir="ltr">Adolfo Davis - now 38 - slumped forward and put his head down on the defense table this morning, wiping away tears, after Judge Angela Petrone reimposed a sentence of natural life without parole.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;This sentence is necessary to deter others. It is necessary to protect the public from harm. The defendant&#39;s acts showed an aggression and callous disregard for human life far beyond his tender age of 14,&quot; the judge said in issuing the sentence.</p><p dir="ltr">Davis was eligible for a resentencing hearing in his case because of a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said mandatory life without parole for juveniles is unconstitutional.</p><p dir="ltr">Davis was the first of about 80 inmates in Illinois eligible for such hearings, and today&#39;s decision by Judge Petrone was being widely watched.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">His defense attorneys say that they will appeal Petrone&#39;s decision.</p><p dir="ltr">In a statement, the Cook County State&#39;s Attorney&#39;s office said, &quot;Today, in the matter of the People of Illinois v. Adolfo Davis, we are very pleased with the Court&rsquo;s decision to reinstate the natural life sentence of this defendant. Based upon the heinous nature of this crime and the fact that Davis was an active and willing participant in these murders, we believe that this sentence is appropriate on behalf of the victims of this crime and their families, as well as the People of the State of Illinois.&quot; &nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;">***</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><iframe frameborder="no" height="100" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/200596176&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></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/judge-resentences-adolfo-davis-life-prison-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