Children and Family Justice Center

IN THE NEWS: Behind the Headlines: Chicago Violence

WGN-TV News recently talked to CFJC Policy Director Stephanie Kollmann about Chicago’s response to violent crime and what government leaders should be doing to make the city safer.

“I think (leaders) should invest in Chicago neighborhoods equitably,” Kollmann said. “I think you should concentrate your policing resources in a way that ensures that police are doing the job that is most important for them to do. Are they investigating murders responsibly and in a way that supports community witnesses?”

Kollmann also said city police leaders should stop blaming courts and focus instead on improving the city’s poor record of solving violent crimes.

For more on the topic, read Stephanie’s commentary (“Quit blaming Chicago’s gun violence on ‘lenient’ laws and judges”) in the Chicago Sun-Times.

CFJC NEWS: A Beacon of Hope for Asylum Seekers

uzoThe current issue of Northwestern Magazine shines a spotlight on CFJC’s Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe’s tireless work on behalf of unaccompanied minors seeking asylum — decisions that for many of those young people could mean the difference between life and death. “A Beacon of Hope for Asylum Seekers,” describes Uzo's own immigration story, the current immigration situation, and the incredible amount of work, dedication, and passion that Uzo has brought and continues to bring to her clients at the CFJC.

"In these times, especially, I am so grateful that the CJFC is able to provide unparalleled representation for those seeking justice in the immigration system through the tireless work of Uzo, our Immigration Law Fellow Amy Martin, our social work and administrative staff, and our exceptional students," said CFJC Director Julie  Biehl.

Illinois girls are being sent to prison for less serious offenses and with less delinquency history than boys


The fourth installment of CFJC’s series Community Safety & the Future of Illinois’ Youth Prisons draws upon discussions with youth and staff, as well as research and data, analyzing recently-increased admissions of girls to IDJJ and unreliable official data on incarcerated LGBTQ youth.

“Currently, girls are being incarcerated in Illinois for less serious offenses and with less delinquency history than boys, while little is known about the experience of LGBTQ youth in IDJJ," according to "Illinois' Incarcerated Girls and LGBTQ Youth.” The report notes the finding is "further proof of the devastating impact of cutting community programs, played out in the lives of some of the state’s most vulnerable young people."

Inside this issue:

  • The number of girls admitted to IDJJ increased by 81% between FY17 and FY18, despite an overall decline in IDJJ admissions during this period.
  • 80% of incarcerated girls were adjudicated for a Class 2 felony or lower offense.
  • Every single girl in IDJJ custody has at least two mental health diagnoses and most have experienced significant trauma.
  • Illinois’ community-based youth services, including mental health care, have suffered significant cuts and closures, which may be affecting girls’ prison admission rates.
  • Evidence suggests that LGBTQ youth are significantly overrepresented in IDJJ, which struggles to maintain a supportive environment despite significant improvements.

The series of reports is the result of a multi-year research endeavor by the Children and Family Justice Center.  The research included interviews with a wide variety of policymakers, a survey of over 150 stakeholders, the collection and analysis of data about the state’s justice system, and an extensive review of academic and practitioner research. The series will culminate in a detailed set of recommendations, consistent with calls from researchers and practitioners nationwide, for a five-year plan to end Illinois’ use of large, adult-modeled prisons for youth and to expand alternatives to incarceration. Find each installment on our Youth In Custody section. 

About the Children and Family Justice Center

Founded in 1992, the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) is a comprehensive children's law office and part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. At the CFJC, attorneys and law students work together to promote justice for children, adolescents, and their families through direct legal representation, policy advocacy and law reform. More...