Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children
In response to the American legal system's growing impulse throughout the 1990's and early 2000's to punish instead of rehabilitate youth, CFJC helped form the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children in 2006. The Coalition is a group of attorneys, academics, child advocates, and concerned citizens who are committed to ensuring the fair treatment of children in our juvenile and criminal justice systems. Their main concern is the extreme sentencing practice of JLWOP- or "juvenile life without parole". The Coalition is determined to end the practice of sentencing children under the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole in Illinois. It issued a report in 2008, analyzing the issue of JLWOP in Illinois and providing data regarding the approximately 100 individuals serving the sentence.You can also read an executive summary of this report.
Today, CFJC attorneys and students represent several individuals currently consigned to die in prison for crimes committed as youth and hoping to be re-sentenced some day.
On June 25, 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court issued a revolutionary decision in Miller v. Alabama, prohibiting mandatory life sentences for homicide offenses committed by juveniles.
What We've Accomplished So Far
This fall, the Coalition assisted in drafting and implementing an amicus curiae strategy for challenges currently proceeding in the courts in regards to ending JLWOP.
The Coalition conducted a broad outreach effort to recruit and train pro bono attorneys to take on the approximately 100 clients that are eligible for re-sentencing hearings.
Project Director Shobha Mahadev led the Coalition in forming Litigation and Legislative Committees to advance their mission.
Teamed up with Human Rights Watch
The Coalition developed a strategic partnership with Human Rights Watch to address legislative options to change Illinois' current sentencing structure and provide prisoners who were sentenced as juveniles with a meaningful opportunity for release from incarceration.