Children and Family Justice Center

NEW REPORT: “Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois”

Written in partnership with the Children and Family Law Center, this report by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission explains that Illinois laws and policies governing the treatment of court and arrest records of youth “threaten public safety, produce substantial unnecessary costs, and impede young people’s ability to transition to productive adulthood."

Although state law long has emphasized the principle that a youth’s mistakes should not brand that child for life, Illinois youth have been harmed by the erosion of confidentiality protections and the extreme difficulty and expense of erasing a record through the expungement process, according to the report.

In Illinois, tens of thousands of juveniles are arrested each year, and the largest majority of those arrests by far are for non-violent offenses.  Over the last decade, only three of every 1,000 arrests – less than one-third of one percent of juvenile arrests – were expunged in Illinois, the study determined.

Read the full report HERE.


TESTIMONY in support of Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice proposal to close youth prison at Kewanee

Stephanie Kollmann, Policy Director at the Children and Family Law Center, presented the testimony at public hearing convened March 30 by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability in support of Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice proposal to close youth prison at Kewanee.

“As a result of visionary leadership and many dedicated staff expending their best efforts, IDJJ has made incredible strides in recent years. However, the incarceration model provides such a hindrance that IDJJ continues to struggle to meet its basic obligations to youth,” Kollman said. “In order for any juvenile justice system to be effective, it is critical to create a culture that supports rehabilitation and maturation, because most youth who commit even very serious crimes will soon cease offending as they grow up.Yet prison-like institutions, even if they are well-staffed, adequately resourced, performing optimally, and aimed at only the highest-risk youth, do not meet this requirement.”

Read the full testimony HERE.

Read Kollman's recent commentary on this topic HERE.


REPORT: REHABILITATIVE RELEASE OF YOUTH FROM ILLINOIS PRISONS

The Children and Family Justice Center has issued a special report, “Rehabilitative Release of Youth from Illinois Prisons,” with recommendations for removal of bureaucratic barriers to the successful reentry of youth to their home communities.

“Illinois is out of step with the rest of the nation and with what juvenile justice experts and research have determined are best practices for successfully transitioning youth from prison back to home communities,” according to the report. “To advance public safety by correcting this failing and improving opportunities for youth to have successful lives, Illinois should remove responsibility for youth prison release decisions from the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. Instead, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice should be empowered to make the decisions using timely, responsible release procedures supported by due process protections.”

Read the full report HERE.

Read related commentary in the Chicago Sun-Times HERE.


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 University 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...

2013 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

Models for Change

The Children and Family Justice Center is humbled to announce that we are 1 of 13 winners for the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2013. You can 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.