Children and Family Justice Center

We are celebrating the 25th anniversary of CFJC.  This is our story. 


Many thanks to everyone who helped make our 25th anniversary celebration a big success!  Find photos from the event HERE »

NEWS: Juvenile Expungement Legislation Approved by Illinois General Assembly

The Illinois General Assembly recently approved legislation (House Bill 3817) to streamline the process of expunging juvenile arrests. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 31 to 20, and the House vote was 71 to 43. The bill next moves to the Governor's desk.

The legislation, which has been advocated by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, was prompted by a research report written in partnership with the Children and Family Justice Center and released last year by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission. Chief legislative sponsors are Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, and Sen. Michael E. Hastings, D-Tinley Park.

“Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois” found that the expungement process is so cumbersome and expensive that only three in 1,000 juvenile arrests in Illinois are expunged. HB 3817 would improve public safety and make it easier for youth to find a job, obtain housing, and pursue and education.

Photo courtesy of Doug Haight

Uzoamaka Emeka Nzelibe, a staff attorney with the CFJC, and her husband Jide Nzeilbe have roots in Nigeria and careers in international law, but it’s a mirrored path that led them both to Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Listen to their story as told on this Northwestern Now podcast »

“Building a Safe Chicago” report: Attack root causes of violence with a comprehensive crime prevention plan

CFJC and more than four dozen community groups and criminal justice reform advocates have issued a report urging Chicago’s elected leaders to reject reactionary and unproven crime fighting policies and instead attack the root causes of violence with a comprehensive crime prevention plan.

Building a Safe Chicago argues against mandatory minimum prison sentencing schemes and in favor of a comprehensive plan that should include:

  • Expansion of community-based programs to improve social conditions that have led to increased demand for illegal weapon possession;

  • Reduction in illegal handgun availability by regulating gun shop owners;

  • Reduction in gun possession charges by identifying and addressing the causes of the repeat offenses;

  • Enactment of the reforms advocated by Mayor Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force; and

  • Economic development initiatives in high poverty neighborhoods.

“An intelligent and equitable public safety strategy will realign public spending priorities to channel resources into strengthening — not suppressing — citizens most at risk, while paying special attention to reducing opportunity gaps across all public services,” according to the report. “Doing so will create a smarter, healthier, more stable and productive Illinois – and a safer Chicago.”

PDF of Building a Safe Chicago

Summary of Building a Safe Chicago

News release

About the Children and Famly Justice Center

Founded in 1992, the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) is a comprehensive children's law office and part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. At the CFJC, attorneys and law students work together to promote justice for children, adolescents, and their families through direct legal representation, policy advocacy and law reform.

Providing access to justice for unrepresented youth is a core mission of the CFJC. Each year, CFJC faculty, staff and students represent young people on a wide range of matters, from delinquency to immigration and asylum to cases addressing harsh sentencing practices or the collateral consequences youth face after coming into contact with the law. Oftentimes, the CFJC gives its young clients access to a lawyer when they otherwise would not have one. More...

CFJC MacArthur Award

The Children and Family Justice Center is a recipient of a MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Please read our story, check out the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's coverage, and take a look at a video about our team's hard work! To make a gift to CFJC, please visit the Support Us page.