Parole Revocation Representation Project
Launched in January 2010, CFJC attorneys and students represent incarcerated youth at their parole revocation hearings through the Parole Revocation Representation Project. Prior to CFJC taking on these cases, there were no attorneys provided for these children. Since the advent of the pilot, CFJC attorneys and students have represented over 150 young people, securing their release 83% of the time. Currently, our staff is tackling a new research project examining ways to seek discharge from parole for youth in Illinois. Currently, all youth are placed on parole until their 21st birthday – a very long term of onerous supervision for many children that should be eligible for early discharge.
Impacting the Issue
- Over 50% of all paroled youth in Illinois end up re-incarcerated in juvenile prisons.
- On any given day, 40% of the youth held in our juvenile prisons are there as a result of a "technical parole violation"
- Only 2% are in juvenile prisons due to a new offense committed while on parole
In response to harrowing statistics like these, CFJC students conducted groundbreaking research under the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission (IJJC). They wrote and published an in-depth study of parole practices in Illinois, and hosted community briefings around the state regarding their findings and recommendations.
Key Reform Recommendations:
- adequately preparing youth for release
- improving the release hearings
- replacing adult parole for youth with aftercare
- shortening the time that youth spend on parole
- protecting youth's due process rights at revocation hearings
- developing a transparent case management system
IJJC published a report including our student's recommendations in it's Youth Reentry Improvement Report (pdf).
Using data collected in this report, Northwestern School of Law's J. Roderick MacArthur Justice Center filed a class action lawsuit seeking to protect the due process rights of youth at parole revocation hearings.
Sam is a young man who enrolled in Job Corps in downstate Illinois and was very successful at his work. He completed the six month program, but during this time did not properly keep in contact with his parole agent. The agent was unaware of Sam's activities, and therefore requested a warrant for Sam's arrest. Following his successful completion of Job Corps, Sam returned to his family in Chicago, and worked with a community empowerment organization called Fearless Leading by Youth. But he was then arrested on the misinformed parole warrant. Sam was a young man for whom prison would not have been rehabilitative. He was on the path towards doing great justice work for his community, but had nothing but his word to prove it. That's where CFJC stepped in. With our free representation, we were able to help him secure a letter of recommendation from his prior Job Corp work and advocate for him at his parole hearing. His accomplishments were recognized, and his parole resumed.
Tasha is a young woman who had been on parole for over two years without any significant violations. She was living independently, and caring for her infant son with the aid of nearby family. And she was a hard worker too- supporting herself from jobs at Wendy's and Build-a-Bear, while studying for her associate degree in criminal justice from Lincoln College.
But a turnover in parole agents led to a misunderstanding in how frequently she needed to check in with her new agent. Tasha's new agent put her on electronic monitoring (EM), but during the first day, she was unable to get permission for emergency movement to take her infant son to daycare and to go to work. Her agent filed a violation, and she was sent to IYC Warrenville for a parole revocation hearing. With the aid of CFJC staff, the presiding board member heard Tasha's case, noted her positive attitude, sincerity, and personal development, and promptly resumed her on parole.