Youth

Creating peace in the city requires an end to the cycles of imprisonment that all too often span generations. But for many children and youth in Chicago today, there few places to go without being seen or treated as a criminal. On the streets, the police target young people of color on a daily basis. In the schools, safety tends to mean expulsion and arrest, rather than a climate where youth are taught how to handle conflicts and learn together. Meanwhile, military recruiters are an ever-present fixture in the hallways and cafeterias of Chicago Public Schools, offering an alternative life of travel, adventure, and endless war. 

At the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, amidst a federal investigation and pressure for sweeping change, detained youth are asking themselves if their dismal surroundings is all life has to offer. All around us in the post-welfare era of the United States, we seem to be much more interested in social control than social reproduction.* And so we invest increasingly fewer resources into the healthy maturation of each successive generation. The voices in this section of AREA show powerful challenges to these trends. From detained youth experiencing the detention center’s current crisis, to lawyers working towards a restorative justice city, to youth organizers fighting for graduation not incarceration, these voices speak to Chicago’s promise. Calling on us to reconsider what kind of society we are shaping for future generations, they invite us to see that justice, like peace, is an everyday thing.

* For more on the shift from an emphasis on social reproduction to social control see: Smith, Neil. (2002). “New Globalism, New Urbanism: Gentrification as Global Urban Strategy.” in N. Brenner and N. Theodore (eds.) Spaces of Neoliberalism: Urban Restructuring in North America and Western Europe. London: Blackwell. Pages 80-103.

Keywords

—Abolition

—Juvenile Justice

—Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Pipeline

Classroom Questions

—What is the Chicago’s role in the history of the Juvenille Justice System?

—What is the difference between abolition and reform?

—What is criminalization? How does it relate to ideas like fear, danger, and normalcy?