DCFS bans use of shackles for transporting youth ‘effective immediately’

The change comes after two teenage boys were handcuffed and shackled at their ankles Oct. 1 while they were being driven from Chicago to a shelter in Palatine.

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A Chicago office of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Two teenagers were physically restrained Oct. 1, 2019, as they were transported from one shelter to another.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times files

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has banned the use of shackles for transporting youth in their care after two teenagers who were being driven from a shelter in Chicago were physically restrained.

DCFS spokesperson Jassen Strokosch confirmed Wednesday night that effective immediately, the use of handcuffs and/or shackles for transporting youth was prohibited.

However, “soft restraints” are allowed only if they are court ordered or ordered by a psychiatrist, Strokosch said. 

The change in policy comes after two boys, 15 and 17, were handcuffed and shackled at their ankles Oct. 1 as they were separately driven to a shelter in Palatine. 

The use of restraints in the case “was totally unacceptable and against department policy,” Strokosch said in a statement last Friday.

The youths were restrained and driven by the Jim Stewart Transportation company, whom DCFS contracts for “secured transport” when a case manager feels they cannot shuttle the young people themselves, Strokosch said. 

DCFS has contracted Jim Stewart Transportation for secured transport about 120 times since 2017, Strokosch said. The company and DCFS inked a new two-year deal in July worth about $240,000, he said.

A spokesperson for Jim Stewart Transportation could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

DCFS was investigating the Oct. 1 incident, Strokosch said Wednesday night.

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