Youth Parole

Illinois Youth Endangered by 'Kangaroo Courts,' Class Action Lawsuit Charges

The Illinois system for determining whether to revoke parole for children and teenagers is akin to a "kangaroo court" that violates the U.S. Constitution and wreaks havoc with the lives of thousands of youth, according to a class action lawsuit filed by the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center in federal district court in October.

The suit was filed on behalf of all youth who are on parole in the state of Illinois and who will go before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (IPRB). The IPRB is charged with determining whether a youth violated parole and with imposing sanctions on those youth determined to be violators. The lawsuit charges IPRB with systematically depriving juvenile parolees of their rights to a fair hearing, legal representation and other gross violations of the U.S. Constitution.

"Over the years, thousands of Illinois youth have wrongfully languished in prison because the Illinois Prisoner Review Board violates the most basic tenets of fundamental fairness and due process." said Alexa Van Brunt, Clinical Assistant Professor of law and attorney for the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School.  "This flawed system creates a revolving door that ensures most young people who leave prison will return at some point. Not necessarily because they commit a new crime, but because the parole process imprisons youth without a hearing based on a mere allegation that the youth committed a minor violation of his parole."

MacArthur Justice Center Attorneys Van Brunt and Sheila Bedi are handling the suit.

Read the complete press release (pdf)

Suit Alleges 'Kangaroo Court' Juvenile Parole System, Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit Claims Illinois' Juvenile Parole System Is Unconstitutional, Illinois Issues blog

Updated - 10/23/2012