Cook County Board OKs minimum age of 13 for juvenile detention center

Children held at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center must now be at least 13 years old, under a new law passed unanimously Wednesday by the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

The ordinance setting the minimum age takes effect immediately and puts the county in line with national research saying children under 13 are “too young to understand and reason” in criminal proceedings. Last year, only nine 12-year-olds were detained at the center.

Sponsor Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, called the change “a very positive step.”

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, sponsored a bill that prevents children under 13 from being detained at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center . | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

“We need more people to think about younger kids who are kind of lost in the system,” Suffredin said. “These are kids who obviously had problems at school, they weren’t getting the kind of education they were supposed to be getting. They come from families where there’s no support. Maybe this helps us understand how we get more resources to help these children be able to be stronger as they get older.”

Children who commit crimes will be rerouted to alternatives through the state’s Comprehensive Community Based Youth Services, a network of providers charged with 24/7 emergency services for at-risk youth. Those alternatives may include mental health care, crisis stabilization plans or placement in a shelter or foster home.

Studies show that for a child, even short detention periods can lead to higher recidivism and increased thoughts of suicide. Also, children who’ve been in detention are 39 percent less likely to finish high school, according to the Juvenile Justice Center, a major proponent of the ordinance.

Board President Toni Preckwinkle also supported the ordinance.

“Criminal justice reform has always been a priority of my administration and we’re looking for best practices going forward,” she said Wednesday.

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via Chicago – Chicago Sun-Times

September 12, 2018 at 05:37PM

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