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Chicago: A city in crisis, the need for healing

Arthur Horton

Lewis University, One University Parkway Drive Romeovile, IL, USA

E-mail : bhuvaneswari.bibleraaj@uhsm.nhs.uk

DOI: 10.15761/MHAR.1000130

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We have become very familiar with the faces and stories of some of the city’s murder victims, but who are the alleged perpetrators? An analysis of police records found the overwhelming majority of those arrested for homicide in Chicago in 2012 have something in common. They are repeat offenders.

Jerry Austin, 36, grew up in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood. He says he got his first gun at age 12.

“I was just infatuated with the lifestyle,” said Austin.

At age 14, he picked up his first gun charge. He was charged with attempted murder at age 16, and he was charged with murder 4 years later. He says he shot and killed a man who had previously shot and robbed him.

“I can’t say no one told me right from wrong. I just chose to do what I was doing and that led me to prison,” said Austin.

With more than 500 homicides in Chicago in 2012, targeting repeat offenders is a top priority for law enforcement.

“We do have a younger group of kids that are serious repeat offenders. We know as criminologists that repeat offenders account for a much larger percentage of the violent crime,” said Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, professor of criminal justice and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

More than 200 people have been arrested for homicides that happened in Chicago in 2012 and 15-percent were 14-to-17 years old. Out of the adults, at least 90-percent had an arrest history in Chicago and more than a third of them were previously charged with weapons-related offenses, according to police data.

Most of last year’s murders remain unsolved.

“The majority of cases of people killing other people in Chicago, we don’t know who did it and that is a big problem. The police, we are working with them to develop new capacities for investigating homicide cases and applying the best available science, but science will only take us so far if the community who knows who committed the crime will not step forward,” said Rosenbaum.

Police officials say they are working to build trust and break the code of silence. One CPD crime-fighting strategy called “hot people policing” uses data and technology to try to predict the next possible offender or victim, based on their criminal backgrounds, associates, and gang ties.

The department is also focused on seizing illegal guns. Illinois lawmakers have moved to increase mandatory minimum sentences for gun violations.

Critics argue mandatory minimums are a one-size fits all approach to a multi-layered problem.

“You can give somebody 100 years. It’s not going to change them, unless they want to be changed,” said Austin.  He admits he was a drug dealer and a gang member. He spent much of his life in-and-out of lockup.

“I was trying at first to go to school. You tell yourself that when you’re incarcerated, like I’m going to do this right. I’m going to do that. I fell right back off into the lunacy,” said Austin.

He says his mother tried to get him on the right track. She died while he was in prison. He is on home confinement now, living with a relative in Dolton, Illinois). Fifteen years behind bars for murder gave him a lot of time to reflect. “I do have a heart and I wasn’t raised like that,” said Austin. “After a while, it started to bother you like I actually took somebody’s life.”

Rosenbaum says the challenge is catching kids early and it is not the responsibility of police alone.

“It’s no secret, the kids who are at risk. The school teachers can tell you, the neighborhood can tell you, the police mostly can tell you. It’s about what we’re going to do to intervene, and there’s a lot that can be done,” said Rosenbaum. He says breaking the cycle of violent crime means rebuilding struggling neighborhoods and focusing on education, respectful policing, and community involvement.

Back when he was a student at Orr High School in West Humboldt Park, Chicago, Illinois in the 1980s, John Hilton says he was on the baseball team and played French horn in the marching band (Chicago SunTimes,11/22/2015).

But to fit in, he says he also started drinking and doing drugs — marijuana, cocaine, eventually heroin. He’d once hoped to go on to play in a college marching band. By his early 20s, though, he says he was dealing crack cocaine to support his own habit.

“I sold to use, and I used to sell,” Hilton says.... In 1992 [1], Hilton was busted by an undercover cop while working in a crack market. After a year in prison, he returned home to the West Side promising himself he’d never go back.

But Hilton says he couldn’t find legal work and ended up working the drug market at West End and Pulaski again.

“The same guys who were dealing with me before I got locked up greeted me with open arms,” he says.

Hilton, now 46, spent the next 23 years in and out of prison on drug and gun charges.

Out since June, he’s among a growing number of ex-cons being released on parole in Illinois. But the largest cluster by far — one of every six parolees — is, like Hilton, on the West Side of the city of Chicago, straining an area already struggling with crime and joblessness.

To reduce that number, those on parole need stable housing and jobs, both of which already are in short supply in many areas, according to experts, advocates and parolees like Hilton.

When prisoners are paroled, they have to give state officials the address where they’ll be living. That’s usually their family’s home but sometimes a friend’s, a transitional facility, even a homeless shelter. They’re given a bus ticket home and assigned a parole officer.

According to Mr. Hilton, “When the doors are closing on you — you can’t find a job, you’re back in the same neighborhood, you see your old life, and you see no alternatives — you can fall back on the one you know.”

During his most-recent prison term — doing time at the downstate Sheridan Correctional Center for dealing heroin — Hilton went through substance-abuse treatment for the first time. He says he realized he was tired of “doing the same things” and asked to be sent to a transitional center that could offer him housing and work when he got out.

Hilton ended up at St. Leonard’s Ministries, an agency on the West Side. He says he’s taken anger-management classes there, learned computer and job-interviewing skills and volunteered for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. He’s working for the CTA through a program for ex-offenders, he says, and has enrolled at Harold Washington College starting next semester. His goal: to be a substance-abuse counselor.

“My main objective was to try something different besides going home,” Hilton says of asking for help. “It was the best decision I made in my life.”

The demand for programs like the one at St. Leonard’s has been growing for decades. Illinois’ prison population, following a national trend, more than quadrupled between 1978 and 2011, driven mostly by drug offenses and other non-violent. Programs to help people getting out of prison haven’t kept pace Out since June2015, he’s among a growing number of ex-cons being released on parole in Illinois and trying to leave prison behind for good. In the past four years, the number of parolees in Illinois has shot up by 14 percent, to more 28,000, according to the Illinois Department of Correction. The most frequent location for destination of parolees is the city of Chicago with high levels of poverty (Chicago SunTimes11/22/2015).

In February of 2015, Illinois became part of a national movement to reduce the number of people in prison, with Gov. Bruce Rauner setting a goal of cutting the state’s inmate population by one-fourth in the next decade.

“By reforming our criminal justice system, we can make our prisons safer, rehabilitate ex-offenders so they become productive members of society and save many tens of millions of dollars,” he said in his budget address.

The governor said that could work only if the state can keep ex-offenders from going back to prison. Within three years of their release, 48 percent of all former inmates in Illinois end up in prison again, according to state officials.

A system is a set of elements that are interrelated to make a functional organic whole. For our purposes we will distinguish three types of micro, mezzo and macro systems Micro system refers to an individual. In abroad sense, a person is a type of system that entails biological psychological and social systems. All these systems interact. A micro approach to social work practice involves focusing on an individual’s needs, problems, and strengths. It also stresses how the individual might address issues, generate solutions, and make the best, most effective choices possible. Micro practice, then, involves working with an individual and enhancing that person’s functioning [2].  Many of the clients at the micro level present defense mechanism in the vein of Freudian discussion of defense mechanisms, denial, introjection, projection, rationalization, etc.: particularly those with a criminal history. In addition some of the factors listed below are evident.

  1.  The substance abuse provides a means to reduce stress and relax, physiologic effects
  2. The myth that the drug was not very addictive;
  3.  A status symbol for some middle class African American males and many in the music industry, particularly hip hop artist;
  4. A self destructive solution to self hate;
  5. The sexual myth affiliated with the drug;
  6. The stimulating effect of the drug makes them feel more grandiose, powerful and in control (very important in a society where individuals feel that they have no control); the income generated from the drug use gave many African American males another avenue for becoming entrepreneurs: selling drugs became another source of income.
  7. One can combine this orientation with the stage of change model [3].

Now considering the two cases presented above. The stages of recovery are evident.

Pre-contemplation

Before change can take place, a person needs to recognize the problem. Addicts typically deny that a problem exists, or blame their genetic makeup or family---anything but themselves.

Contemplation

Once the person recognizes the problem a plan is made to change, usually within the next six months.  True change however may be years away. At this point most addicts are focused on the past and the aspects of the problem when they should be working on solutions and the future.

Preparation

This involves the addict setting a date for action and publicly announcing they intend to change their behavior. A plan of action is important including coping strategies.

Action

An enormous commitment of time and energy may be required. The addict will benefit from strong encouragement and support. In some instances purposeful restorative justice to those affect by offender type behavior may be appropriate.

Maintenance

Once the goal is achieved the addict has to remain focused to avoid lapse and relapse. This stage can last from six months to a lifetime

Termination

When temptation no longer exists, the former addict may consider the problem resolved. Some experts argue, however, that addiction is lifetime issue that never entirely disappears. I would argue that person most often is facing a cluster of problems /issues and will be in one of the respective stages at the same time with the over -lapping respective issues /problems.

The above is also compatible with the Tip of the Iceberg Model.

What is underneath the presenting problem in the symptoms associated with substance abuse and even habituated violent behavior, emotional rage or instrumental (retaliatory as an example) is some combination of these core issues: many personal, emotional loses, self hate, bottled up emotions, pain caused by racism, feeling of helplessness, feelings of hopelessness, apathy, rage, cultural shame, color consciousness and father/son pain. I agree with Mark Saunders that abandonment has played a role in the self-hatred of African Americans drug users and certainly, the aggressive predatory type. They feel that they are a mistake and that they should not have been born. Since young children idealize their parents, when they are abandoned they blame themselves and begin to believe it happened due to their very existence because they are “bad” children. This is often the beginning of self-contempt and ultimately self –hate. I claim even when both parents are in the home, a child may experience emotional abandonment. Other factors also contribute to those that present criminal acting out behaviors.

According to Amos N. Wilson [4], “However a cursory examination of human motivation soon convinces us that human behavior is by far more instigated, oriented, and regulated by anticipations, temptations, enticements, and incentives, than by internal drives, needs or deprivations.  Human behavior is more ‘pulled’ than ‘pushed’ i.e., impelled by external forces and their internal representations than the other way around. Again from Wilson,

“The violent ghetto criminal did not have a desire for and willingness to kill to obtain a pair of expensive sneakers before they conceivably or actually existed. The sneakers (product) must have been imaginatively or actually presented to him in such a fashion that his desire and willingness to kill for them were elicited and activated by their presentation.”

Fred Dyer has made an important contribution to the understanding of African American male substance abuse particularly its initiation during adolescence. He posits the following risk factors for adolescent substance abuse [5]:

  1. Laws and norms favorable toward behavior (for example you don’t “snitch” or “rat” even if you are the victim
  2. Availability
  3.  Extreme economic deprivation
  4. Neighborhood disorganization
  5. Family alcohol and drug use
  6. Poor and inconsistent family management practices
  7. Family conflict
  8. Low bonding to family
  9. Early and persistent problem behavior
  10. Academic failure
  11. Low degree of commitment to schooling
  12. Peer rejection
  13. Association with drug-using peers
  14. Alienation and rebelliousness
  15. Early onset of drug use 

At the adult level, a clinical issue that many black clients need to address is rage they feel toward the white world.  This anger is based on the unresolved realities of racism in this country. The black community often feels that the skills and talents that exist in black America are overlooked or minimized, that their opinions and worldviews are largely ignored. Even with the advent of communication technology such as social media that in their instance acts to only further marginalize the black population.

Working with African American clients at the mezzo level one must be aware of at least six sub groups. At the adult level, a clinical issue that many black clients need to address is rage they feel toward the white world.  This anger is based on the unresolved realities of racism in this country. The black community often feels that the skills and talents that exist in black America are overlooked or minimized, that their opinions and worldviews are largely ignored. Even with the advent of communication technology such as social media that in their instance acts to only further marginalize the black population.

Working with African American clients at the mezzo level one must be aware of at least six sub groups [6].

  1. Acculturated
  2. Bicultural
  3. Culturally Immersed Conformist
  4. Culturally Immersed Afrocentric
  5. Culturally Immersed Deviant
  6. Traditional Unacculturated 

Mezzo system refers to any small group, including family, work group and other social groups. Sometimes for assessment purpose it is difficult to clearly differentiate between issues involving a micro system and a mezzo system in which the individual is involved [2].  The mayor of the city of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has addressed the issue of recidivism of ex- offenders’ tenure in the city. He states in a news release:

Following national trends, Illinois has seen its prison population soar in the last 35 years. In the last 30 years, the Illinois prison population has increased by more than 500 percent. Meanwhile, Illinois has seen its prison exits rise as well. The number of people released from Illinois state prisons from 2000 to 2003 has jumped from 28,876 to 35,372—an increase of more than 22 percent. Over 50 percent of prisoners released from all Illinois prisons in 2006 returned to the City of Chicago alone. The issue of prisoner reentry has taken on new urgency in recent years, as tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals have returned to our city seeking a fresh start. Chicago is one of the few cities to focus on the challenges of prisoner reentry in such a thorough and comprehensive manner. Below you can find information on the current programming and resources targeted to providing services to individuals with a criminal background who have served their sentence and need a second chance.

The issue of prisoner reentry has taken on new urgency in recent years, as tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals have returned to our city seeking a fresh start. For too long, the challenges facing these individuals were largely ignored.

The dimensions of the problem are clear. This year alone, more than 21,000 people will return to Chicago after their release from prison. Many will return to their same neighborhoods, often jobless, without a place to live and lacking the basic skills they need. Few receive any help in turning their lives around. We need to promote and develop concrete, pragmatic measures that will address the challenges they face every day.

When we talk lending a hand to these individuals, we do so always with the understanding that some have committed serious crimes. Their problems often are not high on most lists of priorities. And there are certainly citizens who believe that these former criminals do not deserve our attention or concern.

But the approach we have been taking has not worked. If we expect the 14-year drop in our city’s crime rate to continue, if we expect to keep our city strong and growing, we must make a renewed commitment to successfully reintegrate the formerly incarcerated into our communities.

These individuals have paid their debt to society and are looking forward to contributing to their families and neighborhoods as law-abiding, hard-working, tax-paying citizens. They are entitled to be treated fairly in issues of employment, education, health care, housing and all other areas of daily life, and we should not hesitate to make sure that they have the necessary tools to succeed.

The fact is that when people with criminal records succeed, we all succeed. Our families, our neighborhoods and our city’s economy all benefit when formerly incarcerated individuals achieve their independence and lead healthy, responsible, crime-free lives. With more and more men and women coming to our city after their release from the criminal justice system, we must all do a better job at recognizing their special challenges. These programs are a critical first step in that process.

From a broader perspective the city of Chicago launched the Toward a Healthy Future Initiative.

The Toward a Healthy Future initiative is educating stakeholders and developing programs in an effort to prevent disease in the Chicago population.  The initiative rests on the foundation that good health is based on many factors that are unrelated to medical care—social and environmental determinants of health include income, social support, education, employment and working conditions, housing, neighborhoods and the physical environment, coping skills, early childhood experiences, and child development. Prevention must be a multi-disciplinary effort, with the health, substance abuse, human service, mental health, housing, criminal justice, and education systems all sharing the role of assuring population health. 

Laquan McDonald’s death has forced us to take a hard look at the Chicago Police Department and City Hall.

But the details of McDonald’s struggles, buried in court files at the Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Services Departments, show we also need to examine the child-welfare system.

Not long after he came into this world, McDonald was thrown into a system that’s supposed to rescue children at risk for harm. Yet the 17-year-old ended up dead on a sidewalk from 16 bullets, killed by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.

At the time of his death, McDonald was a ward of the state, suffering from complex mental issues.

Going through hundreds of juvenile justice and child protection records shows the court struggled to find a proper placement and treatment for McDonald.

Born to Tina Hunter, a teenage mother who also was a ward of the state, McDonald and his younger sister were removed from Hunter’s care twice — once at 3 years old and again when he was 5.

At one point, he was briefly placed in foster care, where he said he was “physically abused with extension cords” and “barely fed.”

Documents in court files also indicate that McDonald might have been sexually abused in foster care.

McDonald’s great-grandmother, Goldie Hunter, was given guardianship of him when he was about 7 years old.

“It was a couple of years after he was placed with his great-grandmother when he started getting out of control, being mean to kids, fighting kids a lot,” Hunter told social workers during an interview last year.

The great-grandmother, who lived in a rough neighborhood in North Lawndale, was 72 years old when DCFS made her guardian. So it’s not at all surprising that by the time McDonald was a teenager he was out of control.

In a 2013 interview, McDonald told a probation officer he was smoking approximately 12 “blunts” of marijuana a day and was a “member of a Four Corner Hustler street gang since the age of 11.”

“I have enough rank to get someone stomped out, but I don’t gang bang like that. I stay in the house,” he said.

In 2014, McDonald again became a ward of the state, this time because of his great-grandmother’s death in 2013.

By then, the 17-year-old had wracked up four referrals to the juvenile court and nine drug-related arrests, as well as probation violations, according to reports and documents contained in his juvenile court file.

McDonald already had been detained four times at the county’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center for a total of 103 days.

During each detention, the teen picked up major violations, accused of being disrespectful and disruptive and threatening and assaulting staffers.

His behavior, according to the court file, was related to mental health issues diagnosed as early as age 11. Among them: post-traumatic stress disorder, episodic mood disorder and bipolar disorder.

Though he was prescribed medications to deal with these conditions, he refused to take them, once telling a therapist, “Medicine is for slow people.”

Apparently, there was no attempt on the part of his guardian to make him take his medication.

After a 2014 charge for unlawful possession of cannabis, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office started pushing for McDonald to be sent to the state Department of Corrections.

“I don’t give a f* about going to D.O.C.,” McDonald once screamed during an outburst at an alternative detention program.

But he did care. In fact, McDonald was “concerned that he was following in his father’s path” and was aware that his biological father was incarcerated, an interviewer reported.

While McDonald circled in and out of the Juvenile Detention Center, state and county officials wrestled over a plan for his future.

On May 29, 2014, at a court hearing that would later be challenged by prosecutors as an “illegal” proceeding, Cook County Circuit Judges Marianne Jackson and Maxwell Griffin held a joint hearing on McDonald

Jackson — the judge who oversaw McDonald’s juvenile cases — was hesitant to send McDonald to prison, instead placing him on 30 months’ probation.

Griffin — who oversaw the custody hearing — set a goal of 12 months for McDonald to return to his mother and ordered that he be placed in the meantime in the care of a maternal uncle with “appropriate support, structures and services.”

The placement was puzzling.

For one thing, the uncle was only 24 — seven years older than McDonald. He was unemployed and on the great-grandmother’s Section 8 lease. He also had a criminal history of domestic violence with two different women, according to a Department of Children and Family Services investigative report.

Jackson expressed concerns about McDonald going directly from the Juvenile Detention Center to the uncle’s home and thought McDonald should go to a “residential placement” facility.

Why Tina Hunter wasn’t given outright custody of her son is a mystery. She had completed parenting classes, gone through family counseling and was seeing her son on overnight and weekend visits on a regular basis. For all intents and purposes, she had consistently been involved in his life.

“Our communication is great. Me and Laquan like two peas in a pod,” Hunter told a clinician.

By then, Hunter was aware that she and her son were caught up in the same cycle of abuse and neglect that had caused her so much pain growing up.

Because of her own mother’s substance abuse, Tina Hunter remained a ward of DCFS until she “reached maturity,” according to notes in the child protection file.

The numerous reports prepared by probation officers, therapists, mental health workers, advocates and other child-welfare workers portray a young man who just wanted to be allowed to live with his mother.

Hunter told clinicians he had expressed to her over the years “a feeling that she need to try harder to have him in her care.”

Despite intervention by child welfare, McDonald described his life as being “hell” and said he had no happy memories of his childhood.

The shortcomings in the child-welfare system didn’t kill McDonald.

But they didn’t help keep him out of harm’s way either.

Macro system refers to a system larger than a small group. A macro orientation involves focusing on the social, political and economic conditions and policies that affect people’s overall access to resources and quality of life [2].

 Before he shot Lequan McDonald on Oct. 20, 2014 Chicago Police officer Van Dyke had been named in 20 citizen complaints in five years. None of those complaints resulted in discipline.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's task force has called for a complete overhaul of the police disciplinary system and a citywide reconciliation process beginning with a public acknowledgment of the Police Department's "history of racial disparity and discrimination." The task force also noted that disciplinary protections enshrined in police contracts prevent the city from holding officers accountable for misconduct.

The Independent Police Review Authority doesn't consider previous complaints against an officer when investigating a new one, for example. And the police contracts say that disciplinary records older than five years — seven if the complaint alleged excessive force or criminal conduct — are to be destroyed.

Instead of using its records to spot patterns like Van Dyke's, the city is supposed to ignore and erase them. That is blatantly against the interest of the community. It shields bad cops from accountability. It's precisely the sort of practice that put Chicago under the microscope of the Department of Justice.

What will the DOJ learn from the police misconduct records? We have a pretty good idea because the documents of complaints less than five years old aren't at issue here. City officials agreed to release them after the appellate judge explained the to them [7].

That subset of records shows, for example, that complaints filed by white citizens were found to have merit more often than those filed by blacks, and that black officers were punished more often than white officers for similar findings of misconduct.

It showed that disturbingly few cases — fewer than 2 percent — led to disciplinary action against an officer, and that many officers escaped punishment entirely despite repeated complaints.

Meanwhile, taxpayers have been tapped again and again to cover the costs of a never-ending string of lawsuits over police brutality and other misconduct. In fact, the city's excuse for hanging onto the disciplinary records instead of destroying them is that they might be needed to defend against all those suits.

There's another group with a compelling interest in preserving the old records. Dozens of prison inmates, most of them African-Americans, say they confessed to crimes they didn't commit because they were tortured by Cmdr. Jon Burge [8] and his crew in the 1970s and '80s. The city has already paid more than $100 million in settlements to Burge's victims, and the [9] created a special commission to expedite review of the remaining claims. The disciplinary files likely contain crucial evidence in those cases.

Yet the union, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has continued to press to destroy those records — and they were winning, until the arbitrators agreed to stand down. That reprieve will last only until the DOJ wraps up its review, unless the General Assembly acts now.

For the youth of color, their existence is met by official suspicion and repression. At school and on the streets, their activities are criminalized; a situation which is often compounded with discrimination in the juvenile justice system. Although the sum of these social forces is the disruption of entire communities and perpetuation of racial disparities, political inertia, media distortions, racism and structural limitations of America’s post- industrial economy are blocks to important reforms.

Simply put, Chicago has a massive Black-on-Black murder problem.  From January to June 2016, 234 murder victims were Black males 51 Hispanic males and 9 White males.  There murder victims prior backgrounds were as follows: 81% any criminal charge, 60% drug charge, 40% drug conviction 31%gun charge and 18%gun conviction (Chicago Sun-Times August 7,2016). All of the data below comes from the Chicago Police Department. In 2011, the latest data officially released by the Chicago Police, there were 433 homicides. Of these, just 128 (29%) had a corresponding prosecution.

Victims

83.4% of deaths were from shootings, 6.7% stabbings, and 6.5% assaults. Of the 362 firearm homicides, 351 (97%) were from handguns. 77% of all homicide victims had a prior arrest history. Victims were 90% male. [Table 1,2]

Table 1. Victims by Age

Age

Under 10

10-13

14-16

17-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

Over 55

Count

10

2

21

196

114

42

32

14

Percentage

2.3%

0.5%

4.9%

45.5%

26.5%

9.7%

7.4%

3.2%

Table 2. Victims by Race

Race

Black

Hispanic

White

other

Count

326

82

20

5

Percentage

75.3%

18.9%

4.6%

1.2%

What stands out the most looking at both charts and knowing that 90% of the victims are male is that a lot of young, Black men are being killed in Chicago. No race comes even close to overall deaths by homicide. Keep in mind that based on 2010 Census numbers, only 33% of Chicago's population was classified as Black. 

Offenders

In 2011, there were 140 convicted offenders for the 128 victims with an associated prosecution. There were more offenders than victims because 10.7% of homicides had two offenders and 10.0% had three or more offenders convicted. 87% of all offenders had a prior arrest history. Offenders were 88% male. [Table 3,4]

Table 3. Offenders by Age

Age

Under 10

10-13

14-16

17-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

Over 55

Count

0

0

7

91

45

14

10

4

Percentage

0.00%

0.00%

4.09%

53.22%

26.32%

8.19%

5.85%

2.34%

Table 4. Offenders by Race

Race

Black

Hispanic

White

other

Count

122

42

6

1

Percentage

71.3%

24.6%

3.5%

0.6%

The data on offenders also tells a troubling story: Young, Black males are overwhelmingly committing most of the murders. Based on the data on the victims, that means young, Black males are primarily killing other young, Black males. What a terrible situation. 

Now, we can and should debate about the causes, but let us just say that it’s hard to believe that racism is the root of it. Yes, some will argue that systemic racism traps Blacks in poverty, but does that explain why Blacks would seem to target other Blacks with such overwhelming violence and frequency compared to any other race? Furthermore, on the race issue, it’s interesting to note that the Hispanics seem to actually murder more than they are murdered, while both Whites and Blacks are indeed murdered more than they murder.

From my perspective, the most recent effort to reduce gang- related activities does not focus on prevention with only minimal funding and as critics appropriately argue is not predicated on evidence-based interventions. For July 4th 2016 weekend some 5000 police person were utilized and known gang members activities were heavily monitored.  However, for the weekend of 16/17 there 14 murders and 53 individuals shot.  With such a large response, however, the results in decreased shootings and deaths were negligible compares to the same period of the prior year. [Figure 1]

Figure 1. Community peace surge press conference makes news in Chicago sun times

Additionally, there are deeper issues that have to be confronted.

The damning [10] report released Friday morning, January 13, excoriates the [11] for failing to discipline officers who too often resort to force, including shootings.

The failure to effectively investigate officers' use of force or discipline police "has helped create a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use," the Justice Department said.

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The 164-page report paints a picture of a broken department where officers have disproportionately used force against African-Americans and Hispanics. Officers have rarely faced consequences, as the city's famously ineffective oversight authorities have done cursory investigations biased in favor of officers, the report states.

In response to the investigation, Mayor [12] has agreed to enter a court-enforced pact with the Justice Department on reforms, federal authorities announced. The report lauds some of the changes Emanuel has made to policing in recent months but cautions that further reforms are needed and change is unlikely to last without outside monitoring [13,14]

A newer set of programs in American schools tries to foster “Intrinsic motivation”. which in theory is durable. One Chicago scheme Becoming A Man, involves counseling form at risk teenage boys in “social-cognitive skills, such as impulse control A recent study found that it boosted school attendance and cut crime (The economist July9th 2016).”

I would augment the above approach with the following.  The proposed organization has a component comparable to Big Brothers and Big Sisters whereby adult members join forces with individual youth to engage in positive bonding experiences. Actual operations employed by the reference entity will be replicated. An alliance with current metropolitan organization is one goal of the proposed organization.

More specific goals are as follows:

Goal 1—Provide opportunity to youth at risk of gang involvement.

Goal 2--- Involve key stakeholders in connecting high-risk youth to community- based interventions.

Goal 3 ---Catalyze cross—agency organizational change and development.

Program Measurements and Performance Targets

Objective 1a: By the end of the proposed programs second year, the number of enrolled youth completing program requirements will increase by 70% or more.           

Objective 1b: By the end of the second year, the number of youth who have completed an evidence–based program/practiced will increase 70%.

Objective 2a: By the end of the third year, the number of stake- holders engaged in the steering committee/policy group (Freedoms Way Partnership) will increase by 70% or more.

Specific measures:

Number of planning or training events Percentage of program policies changed or rescinded

Objective 3a: By the end of the second year the number of policies changed or rescinded to address local gang problems will increase by 25% or more.

Objective 3b:  By the end of the third year the number of agencies (recipients) of policy or implementation assistance will increase 25% or more.

Plan of Action

  1. Opportunities provision
  2. Social Interventions
  3. Organizational Changes and Development

The limitation of this project is that it does not address post trauma of youth who are victims of shootings in Chicago. I present the last case of Tavon Taylor.

Chicago violence: Monday, Aug. 8, stood out: the city's deadliest day. Tavon Tanner was a 10-year-old boy who had been playing on his porch on West Polk Street in the Lawndale neigh­borhood.

A small bullet travels through a small body with giant force. Tavon weighed 70 pounds."It would be like me being shot with a small cannonball," says Dr. Ryan Sullivan, a trauma surgeon on call the night Tavon was rushed into Mount Sinai Hospital. Tavon lost his spleen that night, and with it his ability to fight infection. The abdominal surgery would leave him at permanent risk of internal obstructions. For the rest of his life, a long scar on his torso would look back at him from the mirror.

The circumstance in the above case become more threatening to a child if any of the factors pertain:

  1. Natural home group never established; Illegitimacy.
  2. Natural home group intact, but not functioning effectively: Economic conditions leading to      unemployment of both parents or the one parent as sole provider of income with consequent poverty.  Tavon’s mother took a one year leave from her job to care for the child.
  3. Chronic illness or incapacity of parent.
  4. Instability or mental unfitness of parent.
  5. Bibliography
  6. Death of a parent.
  7. Illness requiring hospitalization of a parent plus no health insurance.
  8. Imprisonment of a parent.
  9. Desertion of one or both parent or forms of abandonment.
  10. Separation or divorce.
  11. Employment of father elsewhere.
  12. Full- time employment of the mother.

Last year, the private, not-for-profit Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network built and moved into part of West Side of Chicago which leads in shootings and homicides— in an effort to help fight the violence and improve the community. The 145-year-old organization offers counseling, mentoring, violence intervention and other services, primarily to those 12 to 24 years old. The organization, which relies on grants and donations, says it’s now working with 110 local residents.

Most of those getting mentoring are brought in through community outreach, according to Norman Livingston Kerr, a UCAN’s official in violence prevention services. Kerr said about 90 percent of those his organization works with have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of exposure to violence.

“It plays a role because they really don’t know that they’re experiencing PTSD,” Kerr said. “They know something has happened — but they don’t know how it affects them.

“It’s not something you have to live with forever,” he said. “Our vision is youth who’ve suffered trauma can become our future leaders. We strongly believe that it can be addressed, and it can be turned around.”

References

  1. Hawkins JD, Catalano RF, Miller JY (1992) Risk and Protective Factor for Alcohol and Other Drugs in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Implications for Substance Abuse Prevention, Psychol Bull 112: 64-105. [Crossref]
  2. Zastrow CH (2013) Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment Brook/Coles, United States.
  3. Vasquez MM, Maurer G, Crouch C, Decremented C.C Group Treatment for Substance Abuse: Stage of Change Therapy Model, The Guildford Press, NY.
  4. Wilson AN, Black –on –Black Violence (2011) African World InfoSystems, NY.
  5. Dyer F (2005) “Effective Evidence-Based Treatment for Adolescent Substance Abusers”, Haymarket Summer Institute.
  6. Bell P (2002) Chemical Dependency and the African American-Second Edition: counseling and Prevention Strategies.  
  7. Freedom of Information Act, 911 calls from fatal Gary fire: 'Little babies ... Oh my God'
  8. CLOUT STREET (2016) Morning Spin: Downtown Chicago alderman wants street performers to turn it down.
  9. Chicago Tribune (2017) Morning Spin: Rauner calls his demands on Senate budget plan 'reasonable', Illinois General Assembly.
  10. Julie Pace. White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked FBI to dispute Russia reports, U.S. Department of Justice
  11. Puterbaugh J, Wong G. Body pulled from Chicago River near downtown, Chicago Police Department.
  12. http://www.chicagotribune.com/topic/politics-government/government/rahm-emanuel-PEPLT000007532-topic.html
  13. Randall J, Halliday-Bykins CA, Cunningham PB, Henggeler SW (2001) “Integrating Evidence-based Substance Abuse Treatment into Juvenile Drug Court: Implications for Outcome, National Drug Court Institute Review 3: 89-115.
  14. Sanders M (1993) “Treating the African American Male Substance Abuser” Winds of Change Publishing Company.

Editorial Information

Editor-in-Chief

Jeffrey L. Derevensky
McGill University

Article Type

Review Article

Publication history

Received date: February 04, 2017
Accepted date: February 24, 2017
Published date: February 27, 2017

Copyright

© 2017 Horton A. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Citation

Horton A (2017) Chicago: A city in crisis, the need for healing. Ment Health Addict Res 2: DOI: 10.15761/MHAR.1000130

Corresponding author

Arthur Horton

Lewis University, One University Parkway Drive Romeovile, IL, USA Tel: 8158365314

Figure 1. Community peace surge press conference makes news in Chicago sun times

Table 1. Victims by Age

Age

Under 10

10-13

14-16

17-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

Over 55

Count

10

2

21

196

114

42

32

14

Percentage

2.3%

0.5%

4.9%

45.5%

26.5%

9.7%

7.4%

3.2%

Table 2. Victims by Race

Race

Black

Hispanic

White

other

Count

326

82

20

5

Percentage

75.3%

18.9%

4.6%

1.2%

Table 3. Offenders by Age

Age

Under 10

10-13

14-16

17-25

26-35

36-45

46-55

Over 55

Count

0

0

7

91

45

14

10

4

Percentage

0.00%

0.00%

4.09%

53.22%

26.32%

8.19%

5.85%

2.34%

Table 4. Offenders by Race

Race

Black

Hispanic

White

other

Count

122

42

6

1

Percentage

71.3%

24.6%

3.5%

0.6%