No Children Allowed

pencil rubbing by Jacob Klippenstein

pencil rubbing by Jacob Klippenstein

When I was at the Cook County Criminal Courts (2650 S California Ave) I saw signs on a couple of the courtrooms. I noticed them first outside Room 307 when I heard a child reading line by line, “No children… allowed… in the… courtroom.”  Since phones and cameras are now banned from the courthouse, I went back and made a pencil rubbing of the sign in my notebook. Coincidentally, the last time I did a pencil rubbing was during my childhood. I also found signs at the south end of the third floor that stated, “QUIET. NO smoking, eating, children, talking”. I asked an official looking person why there were signs up. Their answer was that, “They’re a disturbance…” Hearing this answer caused me to think about how the very presence of children is threatening order in this institutional space. They added after a few moments “…they’re noisy when there’s a jury.” I mentioned that I was curious why only 3 courtrooms posted this ordinance. I was told that the signs are “supposed to be on all the courtrooms. None of the judges want kids in there. They just ran out… didn’t order enough… [cough] I don’t know.”  After some snooping I found that there are Children’s Advocacy Rooms that provide childcare at courts in Cook County except not at the building at 26th and California. So, here parents and kids are left out in the hall.