The data presented in this report show that certain community areas in Chicago are disproportionately impacted by juvenile arrests. The maps included in the report visually illustrate that juveniles on the South and West sides of Chicago are more likely to find themselves in police custody.
We know that contact with law enforcement has a negative impact on young people. Young people who are arrested may at least temporarily miss school, work, or youth development programming while they are held in police custody. Their school and positive extracurricular schedules are further disrupted on each day they are required to appear in court or held in detention, as are their parents’ work and child care responsibilities. Youth in trouble with the law consistently struggle in school, have higher levels of mental and emotional trauma, and are likely to recidivate.
Community members must find new and creative ways to reach young people before they are arrested or come to the attention of law enforcement. We encourage our readers to take personal responsibility for supporting young people who may be in trouble. Please share your ideas with us so that we may pass them along. Visit the Arresting Justice report blog (https://arrestjustice.wordpress.com) where youth and adults will be participate in an anonymous survey about encounters with the police. In addition, Caitlin Patterson of FDLA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Mariame Kaba of Project NIA can be reached at email@example.com for questions about the report.
The event of an arrest is truly life-altering for anyone taken into police custody and their families. We must work to prevent youth involvement with police and criminal/delinquency court systems. Despite sensational media reports, however, youth are the minority of people who get arrested. The Chicago Police Department made 181,669 arrests in 2009 – approximately 17% were of people seventeen and younger (31,224). This statistic should shatter the prevalent characterization of youth as “flash mobs” or as automatically “suspect.” In forming opinions about Chicago’s young people, we should never forget that adults are the ones primarily implicated in the criminal legal system.
Chicago Police Department 2009 Annual Report; CPD Research and Development Division, Research and Analysis Section (March 11, 2011).