Youth Activists: Juvenile Inmates “Treated Like Animals.”


Editor’s Note: The following story was written by a student in the Urban Youth International Journalism Program in partnership with Imagine Englewood If, a youth services organization based in that South Side neighborhood:

Going without clean clothes for weeks. Eating bad food. Suffering violence. These are realities of the juvenile justice system in Cook County, according to youth organizations and experts who spoke at Roosevelt University March 10 in an event organized by the group Fearless Leading by Youth (FLY) and the Southwest Youth Collaborative to expose how teens are treated in detention facilities.

It was a shame to hear how the youth inmates are being treated at the Audy Home detention facility on the Southwest side. At the event, youth leaders said the detained youth have to wear the same jumpsuits and underwear for up to two weeks before getting clean ones. And they said the food being served was weeks past its expiration date, causing many of the young inmates to become ill.

Hearing their descriptions made me cringe inside and wonder how I could help. The food and lack of clothing changes weren’t the only things of concern. Violence was an even bigger topic. The speakers said that in 2007, a “riot” broke out at the Audy Home and chairs, computer monitors and keyboards were thrown. Security guards and employees were hurt, according to media reports. But speakers at Roosevelt said the juvenile detainees were also hurt, and it took weeks or even months for their cuts and bruises to fully heal.

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