Cook County Juvenile Detention Numbers Up

The number of youth being held at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center has increased, the Chicago Tribune reports, potentially threatening Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s plan to reduce youth incarceration and close down parts of the facility.

According to the Tribune, the JTDC held an average of 257 youth each night in 2012. In January, 2013, the nightly average was 266, reaching a high of 281 on Jan. 31.

Earl Dunlap, the administrator of the detention center, informed county officials that there were too many youth being held at the facility to either reduce the number of staff or the number of beds available, as Preckwinkle had planned. He also warned that one section of the facility that was closed last year to save money might have to be reopened if the population at the center remains high.

Preckwinkle said the numbers do not yet warrant reopening a section of the facility. She also said the increase in the number of youth being held “may be the result of a record-breaking month of violence in the city of Chicago, which often leads to increased police response.”

Click here to read the Tribune article.

Responding to the Tribune article, the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board said the county is locking up too many youth, perhaps in reaction to the jump in homicides.

“A wealth of research, however, concludes that the best way to reduce urban crime in the long run is not to lock up such offenders, but to supervise and treat them in their communities, often using electronic monitoring. Incarcerating low-level offenders — drug abusers, prostitutes, small-change thieves and the like — only makes it more likely they will become hardened and violent criminals.”

Click here to read the Sun-Times editorial.

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