“Fearful inheritance”: What the Case for Reparations Means for Jail and Prison Reform

The JTDC holds about 300 kids, almost 90 percent of whom are black males from a small handful of Chicago’s most impoverished and segregated neighborhoods like North Lawndale. As most of the population are detained for low-level, non-violent offenses like statutory violations, property or drug offenses, the facility is more of a social-service overflow for the city’s poorest black communities than it is a place to detain youth who pose a legitimate risk to public safety.

This use of the JTDC doesn’t simply point back to our failure to correct the crippling consequences of past racist policies. A growing body of research shows that when compared to community-based sanctions, incarceration criminalizes low-risk youth, making them less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to re-offend as adults.  As it costs about $350 a day to incarcerate a kid in the JTDC, the facility robs Cook County of the resources it could use to meaningfully address the needs of justice-involved kids and their communities.

John Maki

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange Op-Ed:  “Fearful inheritance”: What the Case for Reparations Means for Jail and Prison Reform