The Chicago Tribune has been taking a look at the rampant problems that appear to be taking place at residential treatment centers for teens run by the state. David Jackson has been one of the reporters who has been looking at the issue over a long period of time. He and other reporters found at least a dozen cases since 2011 of prostitution being performed by teens who had left the centers, sometimes just periodically.
Jackson says, "The number we got is a very conservative number of kids involved in prostitution while they were living at the centers as verified by government records." He says dozens more cases were revealed through interviews. He says kids admitted to going out on short runs, sometimes just for several hours. He says those who were experienced would sometimes recruit others at the facilities.
Jackson joined us for this interview about the ongoing series:
Jackson says the series will continue. He says, "It is not only going to look at safety of kids inside these centers, but also look ... more broadly at the way Illinois provides mental health services to disadvantaged kids." He says many of the youths that the Tribune talked to said they feel like damaged goods after being wards of the state: "They told us again and again ... they felt like they went in needing help but they came out much worse than they went in, they came out more damaged and more hurt."