Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** DCFS refuses to stop shackling children
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
*** UPDATED x1 *** DCFS refuses to stop shackling children

Wednesday, Feb 19, 2020

* ACLU IL yesterday…

Earlier today at a meeting of the Illinois House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee, Carol Melton of the Department of Children and Family Services – under questioning by Committee members – refused to guarantee that DCFS would not shackle children in their care. The following can be attributed to Heidi Dalenberg, Director of the Institutional Reform Project at the ACLU of Illinois:

The Department must clear up any confusion immediately, with no further delay. DCFS made a promise late last year to the children in their care, to the ACLU as attorneys for those children and to a federal court judge that they would not shackle children going forward. When that promise was broken earlier this month, the promise was renewed. We are puzzled, and angry, to see this hedging in Committee today.

No child in the care of DCFS should be shackled. It is not hard. Just stop doing it.

* From the hearing

Rep. Keith Sommer (R-Morton) wanted to know why DCFS is still shackling children, even though it is against their current policy.

“It’s pretty basic. I think everyone heard it - you’re still shackling. Why,” Sommer asked. “How do you defend it? Tell members of the committee and the people of the state of Illinois how you defend it.”

“I’m not going to do that,” said DCFS Legal Counsel Carol Melton. “I can tell you that when it came to the administration’s attention last week, we took immediate action and stopped it - terminated a contract for cause, self-reported the incident - so I’m not going to defend it.”

“Can you guarantee me there won’t be any children shackled moving forward,” asked Sommer.

“I don’t know how you expect me to answer that question. I can tell you that our General Counsel is working very closely with the ACLU to make sure that we are complying with the B-H consent decree. And we’re making sure that we are acting appropriately and making sure anytime that there’s a problem that we take action to address it,” Melton explained.

* From the Cook County Public Guardian…

Marc Smith, Director
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

Re: DCFS Shackling Children

Dear Director Smith:

I was shocked to hear that, today, your agency testified before an Illinois House Committee that you cannot assure that DCFS will follow its own policies, the law, and the constitution, all of which preclude shackling of children.

Today the Illinois House Adoption and Child Welfare Committee conducted a hearing on the so-called shackling bill, HB 3969. Carol Melton, DCFS’s Asst. Deputy General Counsel and Ethics Officer, testified for DCFS. When Representative Keith Sommer asked Melton if DCFS can assure the committee that no more kids will be shackled between now and until the bill moves forward, Melton responded to the effect, I can’t tell you that.

In other words, most remarkably, DCFS can’t say it won’t break the law, the constitution, and its own newly-promulgated policies prohibiting shackling of children. DCFS can’t say it won’t continue to trample on children’s civil rights. The only positive takeaway is that your attorney and ethics officer testified honestly.

I certainly hope that we won’t continue to see children shackled.


Charles P. Golbert
Public Guardian

*** UPDATE *** Letter from DCFS Director Marc Smith…

Dear Mr. Golbert,

We share your concerns regarding the safety and welfare of our children. As you know, the express policy of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services states that “[u]nder no circumstances shall any agent or employee of [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.” To be clear, DCFS will do everything it can to ensure that – consistent with its express policy – neither handcuffs nor shackles are used to transport any youth in DCFS care.

Last week, after Jim Stewart Transportation LLC inappropriately used leg restraints to transport a youth in DCFS care, DCFS immediately terminated its contract with Jim Stewart Transportation LLC and conducted a training with DCFS leadership regarding the required secured transport protocol. DCFS is working diligently to identify appropriate vendors to securely transport youth in DCFS care when necessary and appropriate and continues to work collaboratively with the ACLU of Illinois regarding potential revisions to its protocol.

We appreciate your continued commitment to collaborating with DCFS to better serve the youth in our care.

Marc D. Smith

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 10:44 am:

    === In other words, most remarkably, DCFS can’t say it won’t break the law, the constitution, and its own newly-promulgated policies prohibiting shackling of children.===

    Governors own.

    This governor can’t be one to point fingers at those shackling children elsewhere when his administration can’t guarantee it won’t stop doing the same.

    It’s getting worse. It’s not getting better. You can’t say it’s getting better and then not be able to categorically state the practice is at an end.

    There is no half way. Do it, stop it, enough.

  2. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:01 am:

    ===“Can you guarantee me there won’t be any children shackled moving forward,” asked Sommer.===

    I don’t know how one would expect a state agency to be able to guarantee that the vendors that have signed contracts with them will actually follow the terms of the contract.

    ===Governors own.===

    They do, but DCFS needs funding and the entities it contracted with prior to the Rauner administration were decimated.

    Governors own, but I don’ think we’ve have the billions of dollars laying around that DCFS desperately needs to have injected into it.

    Governors own, but we’re the ones who are responsible for what has happened with DCFS over the last several decades.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    === They do, but===

    No but.

    They can guarantee that shackling will end, or not.

    The funding, it’s budget, it’s mission, no simple solution.

  4. - Chain Gang - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:13 am:

    Why is Marc D Smith still acting director of DCFS?

    He’s had a year, it is not working, we’ve given him $50M and it’s still not working, he’s asking for $150M more and it still will not work.

    Money cannot fix incompetence, and this senior staff is not up to the task. Granted it is a big task, but they are not up for it.

    Keith Sommer is a senior downstate Republican who wants to give DCFS more money, and we cannot even meet his standards for basic civil rights.

  5. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:28 am:

    If shackling is still occurs then I don’t think it is as much on the vendors as on DCFS

  6. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:35 am:

    ===They can guarantee that shackling will end, or not.===

    Asking an attorney under oath to state with absolute certainty in a public hearing that a public agency or it’s contracted vendors will not violate the law is a heavy burden to meet.

    There is zero ability for an employee of that agency, of the governor’s office, or even the governor themselves to state with absolute certainty that DCFS or it’s vendors will never shackle another kid again.

    The kid is already not supposed to be shackled. They are already doing something they’re not supposed to be doing. Governors can promise consequences to violating the law, they can’t promise that private parties in their employment will not violate the law with any amount of certainty.

    Governor’s own, but making a guarantee when there no mechanism to create absolute or near absolute certainty isn’t ownership.

    Being sincere and straight forward in a public hearing is better than misleading a legislator — and even the legislature can’t guarantee that legislators are going to follow the law.

    I’m not sure it’s fair to ask any administration to make a promise on something where they can’t actually control the behavior, just the consequence of that behavior.

  7. - Chain Gang - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:37 am:

    === They do, but ===

    Goodness sakes, Candy.

    Marc Smith contracted with a company that specializes in shackling people for transport and then acted surprised they shackle people.

    Then he continued to contract with them to provide transport services in vehicles that have been modified to shackle people.

    This is not one of those unforseeable tragedies. DCFS contracts out 85 percent of its services. Managing and monitoring contracts to make sure they are followed is a core job skill at DCFS.

    They are simply not up to the task. Not impossible, just impossible for them.

    Everyone should FOIA their contract compliance data to see for themselves.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    === Asking an attorney under oath to state with absolute certainty in a public hearing that a public agency or it’s contracted vendors will not violate the law is a heavy burden to meet.===

    Not one person said being governor was going to be easy…

    “Meh, it happens”

    Not good enough. Nope.

  9. - dbk - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 11:59 am:

    –They are simply not up to the task. Not impossible, just impossible for them.–

    True, and this is one reason why that $150 million or so, while necessary, is not sufficient to heal what ails DCFS.

    When you contract out 85% of services to private providers, you’re doing things on the cheap, that’s all there is to it. Doing things on the cheap has consequences.

    DCFS fired the provider which shackled children - what can they do to guarantee it will never happen again?

    Well, they could stop working with private vendors.

    But that would cost a lot more than $150 million.

  10. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 12:30 pm:

    Someone at DCFS had to sign off on the last shackle transport. Someone at DCFS will have to sign off on future shackle transport. The Rep. wasn’t asking the witness to be a fortune teller, he was asking if DCFS can follow the law. That answer was infuriatingly bad.

    The very premise that we have to advocate for a law to keep the department, charged with protecting our children, to stop shackling traumatized children - reflects the level in which the leadership of this department has become morally bankrupt.

  11. - Almost retired - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    I agree and support Candy’s last statement. The attorney told the realistic truth. It is impossible to guarantee but not impossible to put every effort into making it better. DCFS managed the contract-they ended the contract.

  12. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 3:24 pm:

    ===realistic truth===

    Tell that to the kids.

    “We’ll do our best” isn’t leadership, forcing yourself and the administration to be better than “we’ll do our best”…

  13. - Klaus von Bülow - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 3:31 pm:

    Did the DCFS Director or his deputies testify if not why is it necessary for counsel to speak?

  14. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Feb 19, 20 @ 7:07 pm:

    “Marc Smith contracted with a company … .”
    Actually, no. All contracts have to be approved by SPOs. Plenty of blame to go around here. Instead of playing “Pin the tail on the goat” how about we address the hollowing out of DCFS?

TrackBack URI

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Pritzker implores protesters to "not force a difficult second rebuilding on our small businesses in the course of expressing your very justified pain"
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Pritzker thanks Dr. Ezike, extends financial protections, points to progress, says no more daily COVID-19 briefings - Calls Trump tweets "reprehensible" - "I want to send my condolences to the family of George Floyd, and also to every African American in this country" - Defends budget decisions - Credits Illinoisans for progress against virus - No bill signing ceremonies - Hopes testing progress continues - "It seems as if President Trump is withdrawing us from the rest of the world" - No out of state travel plans - Talks contact tracing - Asks Illinoisans to be careful during reopening - Will sign Medicare for undocumented seniors bill - Refuses to criticize Lightfoot for Trump comments - Talks about difficulties in securing testing locations - Dr. Ezike and Pritzker respond to question about what they've learned about themselves and leadership - "We're no longer in a stay at home order"
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...









Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller