CHICAGO (CBS) — Despite a promise to never place young people in restraints, another child in DCFS custody was shackled on Monday, this time for nearly 400 miles.
The 14-year-old female was in “hard ankle” restraints for 6.5 hours on a trip from Moline, Ill., to Springfield, Mo.READ MORE: Man Stabbed On CTA Blue Line Train Near Irving Park Stop
“No one in our care should ever be mistreated by this,” said DCFS spokesman Jassen Strokosch, who added the state will be terminating the contract with the transport company.
In December, the director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services sent out a memo categorically banning the use of handcuffs or shackles when transporting young people.
The new rules came after multiple CBS 2 reports about Chicago foster kids who were shackled while in DCFS custody. CBS 2 was the first to expose the practice.
In a statement, the Illinois ALCU said: “We learned that yesterday another foster child was shackled during a DCFS transport. This is a clear violation of the child’s rights and DCFS’ promise to us, to the Court in B.H., and to all youth in care.
“This is not a question of policy – this is about common decency. People should not need training or elaborate approval protocols to know that you don’t shackle children.”
A memo issued by Acting DCFS Director Marc D. Smith states in boldface italics: “Under no circumstances shall any agent or employee of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (‘DCFS’), any agent or employee of any provider, or any transportation company designated to transport youth in DCFS care use handcuffs and/or shackles for transporting any youth in DCFS care. This prohibition applies to all forms of such transportation, including Secured Transport.”
“Secured transport” involves the use of a vehicle in which all the doors are locked and passengers cannot open them. It will be allowed under limited conditions, the DCFS said.
The DCFS said secured transport must be mandated under court order, ordered by a psychiatrist based on a youth’s mental health needs, or ordered by the DCFS director under “exigent circumstances.”
Secured transport has been used 131 times since 2017.
Soft restraints can also be used in even more limited circumstances. They are only allowed under court order or by order of a psychiatrist, the memo said.READ MORE: Jussie Smollett Trial: Jury Could Get Case As Trial Resumes Monday
Specific procedures and paperwork are required to ask for secured transport. An extensive form must be sent up the DCFS chain of command before a secure transport is approved.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported that new documents show the number of foster care kids in shackles is actually 10 times what we were told by the state.
Jawan Cross was shackled, on orders from DCFS, on a transport from a Chicago youth center to the suburbs.
“Some people in a van – a regular van – they shackled me, locked my feet down and locked my hands down,” Cross said.
Cross was one of at least 28 cases in which restraints were used in just the last two and a half years. DCFS later admitted that should never have happened.
“They told me they had to put me and handcuffs. I was wondering why,” Cross said.
We obtained DCFS transport records that show over the last 2.5 years 28 cases where restraints—leg shackles and handcuffs—were used on foster kids.
In November 2017, the documents show a 17-year-old girl was transported in those restraints from Chicago to Detroit, a 4.5-hour trip.
Chicago foster kids have also shackled for parts of trips to three cities in Tennessee – Memphis, Jackson and Waverly – and Fordyce, Arkansas.
“At some point, and I don’t know what that point is, but this is torture,” said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert.
A state contract uncovered by CBS 2’s Tye revealed that transportation companies previously decided how to contain DCFS children during rides, not state experts.MORE NEWS: Delivery Driver Shot In Head In Back of The Yards; 18-Year-Old Struck In Thigh