Preckwinkle holds ‘State of the County’ meeting at Eden church
by BRIAN NADIG
Making it easier for juvenile offenders to secure a job was one of the issues discussed at a "State of the County" meeting hosted by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on June 1 at the Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison St.
Preckwinkle’s chief of staff Lanetta Haynes said that proposed state legislation would make it easier for juvenile offenders to get their criminal records expunged. She said that while juvenile records are supposed to be kept confidential, the information too often is released to the public and can hamper young adults when they seek a job.
Haynes also expressed concern that that there is too many juveniles being sentenced for crimes like robbery even if the weapon was not used during the offense. She said that juveniles sometimes carrying weapons for personal protection because they feel unsafe in their neighborhood.
In May, the Illinois Senate approved legislation that would amend the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, but the Illinois House of Representatives has not taken final action. The bill would provide that juvenile records which have not been expunged be sealed and never be released to the public and that those who improperly release information be subject to a $1,000 fine.
The legislation also would provide various circumstances in which juvenile records would be automatically expunged and would eliminate the requirement that those seeking expungement be at least 21 years old. Also, the number of years that a petitioner would have to wait to apply for expungement would be reduced from 5 to 2 years after their commitment to the state Department of Juvenile Justice has ended.
The bill also would require that job application forms state that applicants are not required to disclose expunged juvenile records of arrest or adjudication.
Also at the meeting, Cook County Forest Preserves District general superintendent Arnold Randall discussed the district’s camping grounds, which are located in Palatine, Willow Springs, Oak Forest, Northbrook and Calumet City. Reservations are available at fpdcc.com/camping.
The meeting’s agenda also included presentations on the county’s plans for a new central campus health center and workforce partnership summer jobs.
Preckwinkle opened the meeting by praising Alderman John Arena (45th) for his progressive policies, including his support of an affordable housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. The development also would include a self-storage facility.
The project resulted from a settlement agreement in which city officials agreed to rezone the property in exchange for the site’s owners dropping their lawsuit against the city, which had downzoned the property to stop plans to build only a storage warehouse there. About 5,600 people signed a petition against the project, but several housing organizations and the Service Employees International Union supported it. A lawsuit filed to stop the project is pending.
The Reverend Jacki Belile of Eden United Church of Christ said that the meeting was designed to encourage dialogue on important issues and to enhance community bonds among the several religious organizations, neighborhood groups and social service agencies that were invited.