REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE

 

Public Hearing

 

May 14, 2008

 

The Honorable,

The Board of Commissioners of Cook County

 

ATTENDANCE

 

Present:

Chairman Collins, Vice Chairman Beavers, Commissioners Butler, Claypool, Daley, Moreno, Quigley, Sims and Suffredin (9)

 

Absent:

Commissioners Gorman, Goslin, Maldonado, Murphy, Peraica, Schneider, Silvestri and Steele (8)

 

Also Present:

Mr. Earl Dunlap Transitional Administrator for the JTDC, Honorable Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge, Jonathan A. Rothstein, Acting Chief of the Bureau of Human Resources

 

Court Reporter:       Anthony Lisanti, C.P.R.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

 

        Your Committee on Criminal Justice of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County met pursuant to notice for a public hearing on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 at the hour of 10:00 A.M. in the Board Room, Room 569, County Building, 118 North Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois.

 

        Your Committee has considered the following item and upon adoption of this report, the recommendation is as follows:

 

293372

REQUESTING A MEETING OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES AT THE JUVENILE TEMPORARY DETENTION CENTER (PROPOSED RESOLUTION).  Submitting a Proposed Resolution sponsored by Joseph Mario Moreno, County Commissioner.

 

PROPOSED RESOLUTION

 

WHEREAS, the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) has been under duress going back several years; and

 

WHEREAS, on August 14, 2007, the court appointed Mr. Earl Dunlap as Transitional Administrator for the JTDC in preparation for the transfer of the facility to the Office of the Chief Judge; and

 

WHEREAS, in light of recent media reports and issues outlined in Mr. Dunlap’s most recent update to the Board and that appear to hinder progress towards compliance with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

 

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Cook County Board of Commissioners does hereby request that a meeting of the Criminal Justice Committee be scheduled as soon as possible to address the issues at the JTDC mentioned in the report and in the interest of protecting the well-being of both the residents and the employees at the center; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Mr. Earl L. Dunlap, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and Jonathan A. Rothstein appear before the Committee to address these concerns and to collectively find ways to resolve them.

 

*Referred to the committee on Criminal Justice on 4/9/08.

 

Mr. Earl Dunlap, Transitional Administrator of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) thanked Chairman Collins and the Honorable Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge for appearing at the federal court hearings in August.   Chairman Collins and the Chief Judge Evans have been aggressive in stepping up at the JTDC. 

 

Mr. Dunlap stated he is committed to transparency which means there is nothing to hide at the

JTDC.  The first report he submitted to the federal court dealt with the dysfunction at the JTDC. The first couple of months focused on developing a table of organization and the 2008 budget submission.

 

Mr. Dunlap stated new procedures have been implemented which are important to the children.  One is the due process hearings for violating the rules. The JTDC established four staff positions to conduct due process hearings and to investigate any wrong doings going on at the JTDC including physical and sexual abuse of children. The due process hearing procedures were explained to the staff; although some staff members were on the defensive. Many staff members responded in a positive way. 

 

In the year of 2008 there have been 50 internal investigations.  A staff person was alleged to have physically abused a resident at the JTDC was placed in a non-contact situation.  This staff member is removed from any kind of direct and continuant supervision of children until the investigation is completed.  The vast majority of the investigations have come back as unsubstantiated, and no staff was immediately put back to work.  In those instances where they were substantiated, the appropriate disciplinary action was taken.  The JTDC had an enormous number of staff members placed on “non-contact,” “stop orders” and
remove from the building” until the situations were resolved.  This process has worked effectively.  The staff has come to understand throughout the JTDC that abusing the children will not be tolerated. 

 

In the year of 2007 the budget had four 462 staff members and in 2008 the Cook County Board approved an increase to 567. 

 

The JTDC has developed a 160 hour curriculum for all staff members, including new employees.  The JTDC has developed an eighty hour leadership training curriculum for middle managers and managers.  

 

In January the JTDC will transfer intake screening, business and payroll functions over to the Chief Judge’s Office to maximize resources and minimize unnecessary duplication. 

Commissioner Moreno asked about the security firm Wackenhut.  He inquired whether the firm has ever been involved with juvenile detention facilities.

 

Mr. Dunlap responded that Wackenhut’s reputation is not the greatest in the world.  He stated that problems have occurred in Florida, Louisiana, Michigan and several other states and jurisdictions related to the juvenile population.  He added that he has been an adversary of Wackenhut and is very familiar with the firm.  The firm is only allowed to be posted in the schools to provide security in halls and corridors and to supervise on the night shift and handle night watch.  The firm is not engaging with the children.  Wackenhut staff will receive eighty hours of training from the JTDC staff members and an extensive background check is required of each Wackenhut staff member

 

Commissioner Beavers inquired regarding the hiring practices at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. He stated that the Bureau of Human Resource had posted 15 positions, and asked whether Mr. Dunlap had hired staff.  

 

Mr. Dunlap responded that he has hired no one.

 

Commissioner Beavers inquired if any interviews were conducted for any open positions at the JTDC.

 

Mr. Dunlap responded over a hundred interviews have been conducted but that hiring is a very complex process.

 

Commissioner Beavers requested that Mr. Dunlap refrain from blaming Cook County for the inability to hire for open positions at the JTDC. 

 

Mr. Dunlap agreed to quit engaging in such conversation.

 

Commissioner Quigley inquired on the overcrowding and reduction of population at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

 

Judge Evans responded that the State Legislature and the Governor Blagojevich placed the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center under his care approximately one hundred eighty days from the effective date of legislation on January 1, 2008.  He stated that technically the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center will be under his care at the end of June.  He believed that at the time the legislation was passed it was not assumed a transition would take place during that time and after that time.  The federal court has indicated the Transitional Administrator has a right to do certain things.  The phrase the Federal Court used is “to bring the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center into substantial compliance with three items: (1) the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), (2) the Agreed Supplemental Order (ASO), (3) and the Modified Implementation Plan (MIP).”  Judge Evans assumed that once those have substantially been complied with, the Transitional Administrator would be prepared to turn the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center over to the Chief Judge’s Office.

 

The Chief Judge’s Office has regular meetings with the Transitional Administrator so that change occurs even before that time elapse; the Transitional Administrator has turned over certain ancillary functions to the Chief Judge’s Office in anticipation that the Chief Judge’s Office may carry out those functions better.  These include certain contractual functions providing food, procurement and MIS systems.  In addition, the Transitional Administrator is asking the Chief Judges’ Office to assist his office with training and other aspects of testing.  The Chief Judge’s Office should provide alternatives to detention for many of the children who are housed in the detention center.  The Chief Judge’s Office provides an evening reporting system and that alternative has resulted in 93% of the children who go through the evening reporting program never getting involved in delinquency activities again.  The evening reporting system described is recognized by the Congress of the United States.  The Chief Judge’s Office would like to get a substantial number of children who have not engaged in violent conduct out of the detention center into other alternatives. 

 

Commissioner Daley asked if the alternative programs were increased whether there would be a decrease in the population.

 

Judge Evans stated that he would like for the County of Cook to put a comparable amount of money in the alternative programs that is put in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.  He has asked the State of Illinois for a fair share of funds for the alternative programs.

 

The Community Advisory Committee for the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center provided a presentation to the Criminal Justice Committee.  (See Attachment #1)

 

1)         Doctor Beverly Butler – Community Advisory Committee

2)         Kenneth Schmetterer – Community Advisory Committee

3)         Katina Cummings – Committee Advisory Committee

4)         Sharon Grant – Community Advisory Committee

5)         Darthula L. Young – Community Advisory Committee

 

Chairman Collins asked the Secretary to the Board to call upon the registered public speakers, in accordance with Cook County Code, Sec. 2-108(dd):

 

1)         George Blakemore – Concerned Citizen

2)         Sheldon Smith – Metropolitan Area Group for Igniting Civilization

3)         Damian Turner – Concerned Citizen

 

Chairman Collins thanked everyone in attendance and concluded the meeting.

 

Commissioner Daley, seconded by Commissioner Quigley, moved to Receive and File

Communication No. 293372.  The motion carried.

 

           


Commissioner Daley, seconded by Commissioner Sims moved to adjourn the meeting.  The motion carried and the meeting was adjourned.

 

 

 

 

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS THE FOLLOWING ACTION WITH REGARD TO THE MATTER NAMED HEREIN:

 

Communication Number 293372                   Receive and File

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Committee on Criminal Justice

 

 

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Earlean Collins, Chairman

 

 

Attest:

 

 

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Matthew B. DeLeon, Secretary

 

 

The complete audio recording of this meeting is available in the Office of the Secretary to the Board, 118 North Clark Street, Room 567, Chicago, IL  60602.