Christmas in Detention Gets a Little Brighter

Things are looking up at a juvenile detention center in Chicago, thanks to an order transfering authority from Cook County to the court.

The... children and teenagers, most of whom are awaiting trial, will have the chance to spend 12 hours a day, for 12 days, playing games: chess, basketball, even competing in a spelling bee, instead of watching endless hours of daytime television and missing home.

In addition to gifts outside their cell doors,

Today, teens hang blinking lights, sparkly garland and ornaments as they compete for best window display and a pizza party reward. Staff members try to make sure that every child gets a call from family on Christmas Eve. In turn, kids are given cards to send home. And good behavior is rewarded with microwaveable White Castle hamburgers.

The changes are the work of court-appointed national juvenile expert, Earl Dunlap:

The power of the key has turned into the power of due process," he said.

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