Cook County is the home of the country’s first Juvenile Court, and in recent years has been a leader in many important reforms to the juvenile justice system, including changes to automatic transfer and juvenile life without parole laws. State’s Attorney Foxx is uniquely positioned to continue to advance the conversation about responsible and effective juvenile justice reform through policy reforms, public discourse, and legislative efforts. Brain science tells us that juveniles and emerging adults are developmentally different than adults, with cognitive skills that process risk and decision-making differently in ways that have profound implications for the justice system. At the same time, a growing body of research demonstrates that any period of incarceration for a juvenile increases his or her likelihood of reoffending, and that juveniles detained in Juvenile Temporary Detention Center are significantly more likely to be involved in a shooting after they are released from detention.
To serve both the interests of justice and public safety, the Juvenile Bureau must strive to assess and address juvenile delinquency cases in a manner that considers adolescent brain development, coordinates with other systems including the child welfare system, and pursues justice through developmentally-appropriate programs that aim to rehabilitate youth. In order to achieve this, the Office will:
• Articulate and disseminate a vision for the Juvenile Bureau that educates and holds attorneys accountable to a system that seeks to address delinquency in ways that are fair, just, and truly aimed at rehabilitating young people.
• Build an expansive and effective diversion system for juveniles and emerging adults to expand the use of intensive interventions and services that are significantly more effective at addressing delinquency and preventing recidivism than detention.
• Improve internal and inter-agency communication and collaboration in order to support “dually-involved youth”—those who have contact with both the delinquency and child protection systems.
• Use the tools of the Office to address the school to prison pipeline. The Office can serve a key role in supporting school districts and education officials in efforts to reform school discipline policies and practices to promote the use of restorative justice and diversion for school-based incidents. The County-wide reach of the Office should be used to help improve information gathering and sharing about the scope of the school-to prison pipeline challenges currently facing the County, and can serve as a gatekeeper, developing tools to filter cases so that only those who need justice system intervention are elevated from the school level.