How to Improve the System’s Treatment of Kids? Ask Them

How to Improve the System’s Treatment of Kids? Ask Them by John Maki

To read this article on the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange website, click here.

“In Their Own Words” examines how young people convicted of serious offenses perceive the criminal justice system, from arrest to prison. The study grows out of a pilot project we have developed to improve the criminal justice system’s response to young people who are prosecuted as adults in Cook County, Ill. Through the support of the MacArthur Foundations’ Model for Change initiative, we have monitored policies and practices in Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) by providing legal education to detainees charged with adult crimes. During this same period, we have provided similar assistance to many of these young people’s family members. Grounded in this initiative, JHA in 2013-14 conducted six in-depth, confidential interviews with people who were prosecuted and convicted of adult crimes in Cook County when they were 15, 16 or 17 and today are incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections, serving sentences that range from 12 to 20 years.