Reports and Publications
NEW REPORT: REHABILITATIVE RELEASE OF YOUTH FROM ILLINOIS PRISONS
In March, 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.”
It is not uncommon for youth who are ready for release to spend several weeks awaiting a hearing. Even small release delays can jeopardize carefully-constructed housing arrangements, community services, and treatment space, while eroding youth and family perceptions of system legitimacy. These delays are expensive and can also be expected to increase noncompliance.
Illinois is the only state in the country that gives an adult-focused parole board the power to release youth. The other 49 states, representing 95 percent of national commitments to state secure confinement, use other mechanisms.
From the report’s conclusion: “The Illinois Juvenile Court Act should be aligned with national practice standards, enabling IDJJ to transition youth to community supervision using timely, responsible release procedures supported by due process protections. These reforms will optimize public safety, motivate youth, maintain family ties, hold IDJJ accountable for case planning, facilitate quality community programming, and reduce costly release delays that keep too many youth in prison for too much of their lives. ”
Attorneys and students at the Children and Family Justice Center regularly participate in research, legal analysis, and drafting of reports about issues impacting youth representation and access to justice in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Through these reports, we aim to educate and inform lawmakers, advocates, and the public of current juvenile justice research.
After extensive research and analysis, the first report recommends raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to accommodate 17-year-olds as it does 16-year-olds.
Currently, Illinois is the only state with a bifurcated system whereby 17- year-olds charged with a misdemeanor are tried in juvenile court, while all 17- year-olds charged with a felony are tried in criminal court regardless of the seriousness of the offense.
On May 14th, HB 2404, the Raise the Age Bill, was passed by the Illinois Senate in an overwhelmingly bi-partisan vote of 40-10. This bill was based upon the report written by CFJC's Stephanie Kollmann and our clinic student law students. On July 8th, Governor Pat Quinn signed HB 2404.
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Learn about the rights of Illinois youth in the juvenile justice system. Made with the help of the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Action Network of the Models for Change Initiative. We've distributed 100,000 copies already!
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Need a guide through the juvenile justice process for your family? Learn along with The Juvenile Justice System: A Guide for Families in Illinois (pdf).