HB5602 Passed Yesterday…More Criminalization of Youth

We wanted to keep you informed about some of the really awful legislation that seeks to further criminalize youth in Illinois. We have raised the alarm about HB5602 in the past. HB 5602 provides for the sharing of law enforcement information, including information on youth under investigataion, to school officials.

We wanted to let you know that the bill passed yesterday over objections of advocates from the Juvenile Justice Initiative and the ACLU. Below are the objections by JJI and the ACLU:

Objections – We believe the bill is still too broad, insensitive to victims who many not want information shared with the school, and potentially disproportionate in application to minority youth who then get caught in a “school to prison” pipeline.

We remain supportive of a study to examine the most effective, and fair, approaches to sharing sensitive law enforcement information with schools to enhance school safety while protecting youth and victim rights.

Specifically:
• Too broad – we remain concerned about sharing information on youth “under investigation” and believe any information sharing should be limited to youth who have been arrested, petitioned to court, and placed in detention, as that indicates some nexus with public safety concerns.

• Insensitive to victims – victims may not want information shared with the school, particularly in a bullying or assault situation. Depending on the gravity of the offense, all efforts should be made to protect victims’ confidentiality and to respect their wishes regarding disclosure.

• Disproportionate – we are also concerned that sharing of information may have an unintended disproportionate impact on school suspension and expulsion, and believe that an essential component of any broadening of criminal record information must be the establishment of a tracking mechanism to measure the impact on the “school to prison” pipeline.

Study first – Finally, we are very supportive of a study to analyze the impact that similar legislation has had in other states. Such a study should also incorporate the latest research on preventing juvenile crimes, pulling together evidence-based practices and best practices. This effort could be jointly led by the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and include a broad range of stakeholders, including those from law enforcement, schools, school social workers, community providers, youth advocates, juvenile justice, parents, and youth.

The vote was 98-19 and the next step is to urge a gubernatorial veto. We need you to please reach out to Governor Quinn to ask him to veto this unnecessary and deleterious bill. The Governor’s contact information is here.

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