Cook County, Illinois’ chief judge has named Miquel Lewis acting director of juvenile probation, citing Lewis’ leadership, experience in the field and academic credentials in the behavioral sciences.
Lewis has held several leadership roles within the agency, which serves the second most populated county in the nation, and is the home of Chicago. According to the nonprofit Annie E. Casey Foundation, Lewis, as section chief probation officer, founded an internal group within the county Juvenile Probation and Court Services Department that identifies policies, programs and practices that contribute to racial and ethnic inequities and attempts to counter them.
His predecessor, Avik Das, was also named as acting director in January 2015 by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans before getting the post on a permanent basis, serving for about six years before stepping down recently.
In selecting Lewis acting director this month, Evans said, “Dr. Lewis’ professional credentials in the behavioral sciences and experience in the department, combined with his clear commitment to youth, will undoubtedly benefit the department, the court, and the residents of Cook County.”
Evans said that in addition to serving as section chief probation officer in the specialized services section of the department, Lewis also had been a deputy chief of juvenile probation, project manager and probation officer. Lewis has also been in private practice and taught psychology courses to graduate students and professionals.
Lewis told the Casey Foundation that he “grew up in Englewood, a predominantly Black community that is one of seven neighborhoods in Chicago that has become a ‘driver’ — a high-volume referral source — to our juvenile justice system.”
“I identify with the conditions that many of these children endure. In my role, I’m compassionate, so I’m always seeking to understand what informs the behavior of these children. I cannot separate my person from my role, and it’s that determination to retain connection to children, families and communities that informs how I engage stakeholders across the system.”