Preteens Accused of Crimes Won’t Be Locked up at Cook County Juvenile Center

Chicago Sun Times

Rachel Hinton

Children under 13 who are accused of crimes will no longer be locked up in Cook County.

Under a law passed unanimously Wednesday by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the county will find alternatives to detaining kids arrested in the county.

The ordinance sets a minimum age of 13 for those placed in the county’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center at 1100 S. Hamilton on the Near West Side.

The new law takes effect immediately and puts the county in line with national research saying children under 13 are too young to understand and reason in criminal proceedings and therefore should not be held in custody, advocates for the change said. Last year, only nine 12-year-olds were detained at the center.

Bill sponsor Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, called the change “a very positive step.”

“We need more people to think about younger kids who are kind of lost in the system,” Suffredin said. “These are kids who obviously had problems at school, they weren’t getting the kind of education they were supposed to be getting. They come from families where there’s no support. Maybe this helps us understand how we get more resources to help these children be able to be stronger as they get older.”

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