Cook County officials must bring transformative change to juvenile detention center

We taxpayers must ensure that our money is spent in ways that support the dignity and humanity of the children in the system, an activist from LIVE FREE Illinois writes.

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The Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center.

The Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

As reported by in a recent Sun-Times article by Andy Grimm, one in four youth who spend time in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center will get shot or killed following release, at a rate 20 times higher than the general population.

This stark data is horrifying yet, unfortunately, not surprising. Juvenile detention has isolating, harmful effects on the mental, emotional and social well-being of vulnerable children, especially Black and Brown children. The harm caused by confinement and isolation risks lifelong consequences, as youth in detention are still developing and maturing for years after release.

The Cook County juvenile detention system should focus on restorative justice and rehabilitation services that yield positive developmental outcomes. Instead, it is held up by punitive, traumatizing practices. As taxpayers in Cook County, we must ensure that if our money is to be allocated toward juvenile detention, it should at least be spent in ways that support the dignity and humanity of the children in the system.

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There is already state funding to do this: More than $5 million was allocated to Cook County through Redeploy Illinois to provide alternative housing and services for young people in detention. County officials must be held accountable to their promises of making transformative changes to the juvenile detention center. The harm being done to our youth must stop immediately.

Gregory Chambers, Bronzeville, LIVE FREE Illinois organizer

Supreme Court must have a code of ethics

The recent news about Clarence Thomas’s financial entanglements with GOP mega-donor Harlan Crow should be alarming to every American. This is what happens when the highest court in the land is given free rein to police itself. Thomas isn’t the first justice to engage in unethical behavior. If Congress continues to ignore the need for a Supreme Court code of ethics, he won’t be the last.

Four of the nine justices currently on the bench have been called out for unethical behavior and connections in the last year. Neil Gorsuch sold property to the head of a law firm with cases in front of the Court. Samuel Alito dined with anti-abortion activists and may have leaked decisions on reproductive health. John Roberts’ wife has earned millions of dollars from law firms with business before the Court.

Congress has a constitutional duty to act as a check on the Court and restore faith in our judicial system. It’s time they act and require a Supreme Court code of ethics.

Theodore Watt, Chicago

Faith leaders, reach out to youth at their homes

I appreciate the faith leaders who went downtown in response to our youths creating pandemonium last week downtown. However, If the positive: “we care about you” message is to have any enduring impact, might I suggest these same “spiritual” leaders find out the addresses of these young people and pay each family a visit. Bring the healing message closer to where they live. These faith leaders amassing downtown merely “preaches to the choir.” But It’s a good beginning.

Anthony Patterson, Logan Square

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