CCJTDC, Audy Home, Whatever

Chicago Tribune Editorial, dated 8/21/05

It’s been just over a week since this editorial was published; and a quick google search suggests that the horrible state of the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center (CCTJDC, or Audy Home) is already fading from memory.

To summarize, just in case you don’t wanna hit the link, the Audy Home is out of control and staffed by patronage workers. The editorial brings up a few points that probably need to be clarified.

First of all, in the Juvenile Court Act, the legislation that governs all aspects of juvenile crime, there is a provision that states that a county’s juvenile probation department is in charge of their detention center, except any county with over 3 million people. There is only one county in Illinois (and, I believe, 3 in the nation) that has over 3 million people. At first, I figured it was to save money. Nowadays, I have no idea why the hell we do it differently. Legally, it is allowed to be run differently.

The article also neglects to mention that now there are TWO sets of metal detectors you need to go through in order to visit a client. The first is upon entering the door, the second is when you try to get into the facility.

Additionally, the article forgets to mention the fact that the walls have posters and pictures that overtly Christian messages. Granted, I get freaked out when people bring up religion in the work place (I think it’s only okay to do that if you work in a church, temple, synagogue or other house of worship) but this is a government facility. Kids don’t need bible verse and pictures of Jesus all over the place; kids in detention need services and programs.

It’s really horrible how the editorial paints the picture of the staff–that they’re all lazy patronage workers. Not all of them are. A number of them, most of the ones I work with, work hard at trying to provide a safe place for some dangerous kids. After all, this facility is not just to keep the community safe, but to help rehabilitate kids.

The problem is, the editorial doesn’t bother to mention a few things about the kids. It’s not right to bring up the Audy Home and not talk about the clients, or their situation. 99% of the kids in the Audy Home have a diagnosable mental illness–Depression, PTSD and BiPolar being the most common. I’d say 98% of the kids come from poor neighborhoods. Around 90% of the clients are African American. I can’t tell anyone what the most common charges a kid is locked up for–as it can be anything from Dependancy/Neglect court, Violations of Probation, awaiting automatic transfer to the adult system or actual charges–I just don’t know those numbers.

That’s a brief picture of who’s locked up and where they’re locked up. If you wanna do something about it, you can actually go to the facility and visit a kid, or be a mentor. Those programs will help one or two kids while the City, County and State figure out how they want to help the most vulnerable kids in our neck of the woods.

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