Reports and Publications


“Reimagining the Throwaway Kid” examines the lingering questions surrounding three U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Roper, Graham and Miller.

“This trilogy of decisions is rooted in the Court’s groundbreaking recognition that children are categorically different from adults in critical ways, requiring courts to fundamentally reshape the way children are treated in our criminal justice system,” according to the study authored by Megan G. Crane, Co‑Director of and a Clinical Fellow at the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth; Shobha L. Mahadev, Clinical Assistant Professor at the Children & Family Justice Center; and Scott F. Main, Clinical Fellow at the Children & Family Justice Center.

Published by the "N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change," the full report is HERE »


In March 2016, the Children and Family Justice Center 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.

release chart

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. ”

Read the full report with appendix HERE.

Read related commentary in the Chicago Sun-Times HERE.

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

Written in partnership with the Children and Family Law Center and released in April 2016, 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. 

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice closes youth prison in Kewanee

In May 2016, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice announced plans to close IYC-Kewanee in recognition of national best practices based around high-intensity individualized services for high-risk youth in its facilities.” At a March hearing conducted by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, Stephanie Kollmann, Policy Director at the Children and Family Law Center, testified in support of closing the Kewanee prison.

“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 from March 30, 2016 HERE. 

Read Kollman's March 3, 2016, commentary on this topic HERE. 

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. 


The Illinois Juvenile Collateral Consequences Checklist (pdf)

Testimony of Julie Biehl Regarding Automatic Trial and Sentencing of Youth As Adults (pdf)

Sexual Victimization in Juvenile Facilities Reported by Youth, 2012 (pdf)

Roadmap for Addressing Conditions in Illinois Youth Facilities (pdf)

Combating Gun Violence in Illinois: Evidence-Based Solutions (pdf)

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Youth Reentry Improvement Report (pdf)

Illinois Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings Project (pdf)

Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction (pdf)

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

Illinois Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings Project (pdf)

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Youth Reentry Improvement Report (pdf)

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