Project Off the Record
Since 2009, CFJC's attorneys have represented over 25 youth seeking to terminate their requirement to register as a juvenile sex offender. In addition to direct representation, CFJC has developed a comprehensive manual and sample pleadings to assist other pro bono advocates.
In February 2016, the Children and Family Justice Center filed an amicus brief in support of a case (In re A.C.) challenging the constitutionality of the Illinois’ Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Acts and in support of the removal of A.C. from the registry.
The amicus argues in part: “Mandatory lifelong sex offender registration coupled with onerous reporting requirements and the constant risk of public disclosure not only violates state and federal constitutional provisions guaranteeing due process and proscribing cruel and unusual punishment, but also flies in the face of the protections afforded children since the United States Supreme Court’s decision in In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967). With attention to the community’s safety and the child’s accountability, Illinois has consistently treated children differently from adults, stressed rehabilitation, and shielded them from adult consequences so that young offenders may develop competencies to become productive members of society. The juvenile court has long been a court of second chances. Lifetime registration as a sex offender thwarts that goal.”
The amicus states that a primary purpose of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act is to “provide an individualized assessment of each alleged and adjudicated delinquent juvenile, in order to rehabilitate and to prevent further delinquent behavior through the development of competency in the juvenile offender” and that individual sentencing tailored with judicial discretion in the best interests of each juvenile offender is the hallmark of the Juvenile Court Act.
“Contrary to the disposition standards and primary purposes of the Juvenile Court Act, A.C. was automatically required to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his lifetime without regard to whether he actually poses any future risk to the community,” according to the amicus. “He was foreclosed any individualized determination prior to the imposition of this penalty. Such a scheme cannot stand under either the recent jurisprudence of the U.S. Supreme Court or the broader protections afforded individuals under the Illinois Constitution.”
Others joining in the amicus included the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Civitas ChildLaw Center at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, John Howard Association of Illinois, Juvenile Justice Initiative, and Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender.