SPRINGFIELD, IL â€” Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) applauded the signing of two pieces of legislation he sponsored to reform the juvenile justice system, limiting the number of young people committed to Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and adult prisons and the average amount of time they spend there.
â€œFor most juvenile offenders, especially those who have committed non-violent crimes, we see better outcomes and lower rates of recidivism when they are able to live in the community and attend school, rather than being detained in a facility far from home,â€ Raoul said. â€œIâ€™m grateful to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and her chief of staff, Kim Foxx, for working with me to eliminate the automatic transfer of minors to the adult court system, and to DJJ Director Candace Jones for helping me pass sweeping reforms within the Department of Juvenile Justice.â€
House Bill 3718 will eliminate all automatic transfers of children charged with crimes from the juvenile system to adult criminal courts. It will also limit the number of cases in which â€œpresumptive transfersâ€ will be made, giving judges more discretion to decide the best setting for trying and sentencing minors based on the particulars of each case. Finally, the new law enumerates mitigating factors a judge may take into consideration when sentencing a person under 18; these include maturity level, presence of a developmental disability, home environment, history of childhood trauma, prior criminal record and potential for rehabilitation.
When Senate Bill 1560 takes effect, juveniles will no longer be committed to DJJ facilities for misdemeanor offenses. The law also ensures that no minor will be confined to a DJJ facility for longer than an adult would be incarcerated for the same offense and that no minor will be detained in a county jail for committing an act that wouldnâ€™t be illegal if an adult engaged in it. The measure also sets maximum terms of aftercare (the juvenile equivalent of parole) for different types of offenses; currently there is no legal limit on the amount of time DJJ can be made responsible for supervising a young person following release. And it establishes parity by requiring that courts provide DJJ with the same information they provide to the Department of Corrections for adult offenders, to help them more effectively rehabilitate minors in their care.
The two laws will take effect in January of 2016.