Posts bySusan Du

The Hope and the Horror of Re-sentencing Juveniles Facing Life Without Parole

Julie Anderson, left, leads her support group for families with relatives sentenced to juvenile life without parole as lawyer Emmanuel Andre, right, looks on. Tuesday afternoons around lunchtime, Precious Blood Ministry in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood opens for a group of mothers chatting up to the door, balancing home-made lasagna and chocolate chip
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A Cafe Serving Up Hope With Job Training and a Shot at Normalcy

Curt’s Cafe is a restaurant that doubles as a job training program for youth from Chicago and surrounding communities who cannot find work for any number of reasons, social or institutional. It is also Evanston’s only ex-offender reintegration program. Founded in spring of 2012 by restorative justice practitioner Susan Trieschmann, it was initially met by
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$54.5 Million Youth Service Program Dissolved as Fundamentally Mismanaged

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, a $54.5 million program implemented to remediate risk factors contributing to violence in Chicago’s underserved communities, had “pervasive deficiencies” in management that resulted in massive misspending of funds, according to a recent state report. Judged to be hastily implemented, inadequately planned and poorly documented throughout its two-year run, the Neighborhood Recovery
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Catholic School Closings Reflect Nationwide Enrollment Patterns

The experience of mass school closures this summer that diverted thousands of Chicago children from their neighborhood schools may extend to more than 700 Catholic school students at the end of this academic year. Citing similar reasons of unsustainable financial burden and substandard enrollment at certain schools, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced last week that
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A Q&A With Mariame Kaba: Can the U.S. Snap School-to-Prison Pipleline with New Rules?

Mariame Kaba is the founding director of Project NIA, a Chicago-based nonprofit that supports youth involved in the criminal justice system with a mission to eradicate the incarceration of minors. The organization teaches local schools how to implement peace circles and other dispute mediation measures. The Chicago Bureau spoke to Kaba about what the U.S.
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Obama Administration Calls Out School-to-Prison Pipeline

The White House sent a message to schools across the country Wednesday to abandon severe discipline policies shown to criminalize students for infringements that could be handled without law enforcement. A series of guidelines issued Wednesday on behalf of the Obama Administration recognized a phenomenon advocates of school discipline reform call the school-to-prison pipeline. The
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Chicago – Finally – to Teach African-American Studies in Curricula Through Sophomore Year

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett Chicago Public Schools this week introduced African and African-American studies into the curricula for kindergarteners through 10th grade. By doing so, the district will comply with a decades old state law mandating the teaching of African American history in public schools. It is the first time that CPS has promoted a standardized
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Illinois Pension Fix Short-term, Bad for Kids, Critics Say

As Illinois reigns with the nation’s worst state-funded pension system, legislators passed a bipartisan reform bill on Tuesday to repair the state’s $100 billion deficit – but the pushback has already begun with some arguing the youngest children will suffer in classrooms, in daycare and at home. The reform bill passed in the Senate 30-24
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Q&A: Chicago Justice Project Head Tracy Siska Talks Mission, Media Failings, Police Tactics

Gangs are a fact of life in Chicago, each identifying with distinct neighborhoods and schools, drawing boundaries in a city already considered to be one of America’s most segregated. In some of Chicago’s public schools, students in grades as early as 4th and 5th are exposed to gang recruitment, sometimes strong-armed, more often cajoled with promises
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Education Secretary Pushes for Later School Day Start

Independent school districts are ultimately free to determine when to start the day, but U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the former boss at Chicago Public Schools, suggested that students could benefit from more sleep in the morning. Citing research that supports his argument that students learn most efficiently when they are properly rested, Duncan said Wednesday in
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Waiting a Year for Mental Health Assessment

HARRISBURG, Ill. – Jaime was jumped by seven boys the very day he set foot in Illinois Youth Center – Kewanee one year ago. He was later raped in the shower, and is hounded daily by guards who call him a “punk-ass nigger bitch,” according to his mother, Celia. Jaime (his name has been changed
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Lowered School Attendance Age Latest Effort to Stem Truancy

Illinois has joined the majority of states in lowering the compulsory school attendance age from seven to six, effective summer 2014. Gov. Pat Quinn signed the measure into law Sunday at Nash Elementary School on Chicago’s West Side to address high levels of truancy among early learners. “It’s all about getting an early start in
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Prison Rape Elimination Act Takes Effect; Is Illinois, the Country Prepared to Stamp it Out?

Prisons nationwide today will be expected to launch new staffing models, education programs, psychological screening exams and incident reporting mechanisms to address high incidences of rape among the incarcerated. Reflecting a general trend in youth criminal justice to promote more rehabilitative practices over the punitive, implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which has
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Quinn Approves Ex-Offender Re-Assimilation Measures

More than half of inmates released from the Illinois penitentiary system reoffend and are re-imprisoned within three years, Gov. Pat Quinn said. And it’s usually due to a need to support their families. In a move to reduce the state’s high recidivism rates, the governor signed into law provisions to help ex-offenders re-assimilate successfully into
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Study: How Juvenile Delinquency Leads to Adult Crime and What to Do About It

The first signs of career criminality arise in early childhood and are reinforced by institutional responses to misconduct, according to the National Institute of Justice. U.S. prisons are overcrowded with offenders who grew up along a predictable path from childhood neglect to social branding. Compounded by the inability of correctional institutions to actually correct criminality, high
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The Fallout of the Zimmerman Verdict Still Reverberates in Chicago, Nation

(UPDATED with clarifications and more information) Following mass demonstrations in Miami, New York and cities nationwide, thousands took to the streets of Chicago over the weekend to protest the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict and demand justice for slain 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. And the volume hasn’t quieted. Martin was shot in February 2012 after Zimmerman, a
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Obama Comes Home to Give Hope, Perspective in Violence-Stained Chicago

President Barack Obama talked about education reform, economic inequality and gun violence in Chicago on Friday, adapting main points from his State of the Union speech earlier this week to address the unprecedented violence afflicting his home city in recent months. Obama’s appearance, an invitation-only event open to local leaders of social change and students
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A Sad Truth: In Chicago, The Murder of Hadiya Pendleton, While Tragic and High-Profile, Is Commonplace

UPDATE: Two suspected gang members were charged Monday evening in the slaying of 15-year-old majorette Hadiya Pendleton, who performed at the Obama inauguration. Charges against the men, approved by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, came on the eve of the president’s State of the Union address – at which members of Pendleton’s family were
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'Home' Is With My Family

Less than a month after Barack Obama was reelected by an increasingly diverse America, immigrants in Chicago and across the United States are discovering that there will be no immediate reprieve from Homeland Security raids in the president’s second term. As droves of undocumented laborers are arrested in a couple of Chicago’s first post-election raids,
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