Story Pitch: Knowing Your Rights as a Chicago Youth

For this story, Real Chi Youth reporters are setting out to explore the juvenile justice system. We are investigating programs that set out to aid youth in learning their rights as citizens, and helping youth through the incarceration experience. We have an interview set up with Mathilda de Dios, a co-creator of Know Your Rights, a Northwestern University project that “engages youth in conflict with the law on juvenile justice issues by centering young peoples perspectives and leadership on justice for youth and families.”

We also reached out to leaders in the Free Write Jail Arts and Literacy  Program in the Cook County Juvenile Court, and Sharlyn Grace, an Americorp fellow who’s been working at the Legal Assistance Foundation. This story is important because of the staggering statistics associated with Chicago youth in the justice system. According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Association, 86 percent of youth were re-arrested within three years of being released from the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Meanwhile 41 percent of the  youth were incarcerated at least once for a new offense and 53 percent of youth were re-incarcerated at least once for a technical violation of parole. In 2012, there were 4484 admitted youths (84.2 percent of admitted youth were Black, 10.7 percent were Hispanic, 2.94 percent were White, 1.09 percent were Mexican.)

By Evie LacroixBrey’ Mong-Delane and Kelsey Phillips

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