Illinois Juvenile Justice Legislative Updates

Thanks to our friends at the Children and Family Justice Center (Northwestern University School of Law), we have summary of juvenile justice related legislation passed during this GA session.

Three significant pieces of legislation concern youth subject to adult sentencing or who are in the deepest end of the juvenile system:

HB 2471 – brought by Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children member Restore Justice Illinois, with technical and legal expertise provided by the Children and Family Justice Center’s Shobha Mahadev and Scott Main, this bill is a step towards bringing Illinois into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions holding youth “categorically less culpable” than adults and requiring courts to take into account how children are different. The bill applies to any youth in adult court; eliminates mandatory life without parole for juveniles; creates a list—based on factors enumerated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama—of youth-specific mitigation evidence that a court must consider (in addition to what a court already considers in aggravation and mitigation) in determining an appropriate sentence; and empowers judges, where appropriate, to depart from mandatory firearm enhancements.

HB 3718 (known as the “automatic transfer reform” bill) – provides an amenability hearing in juvenile court to most youth who are currently excluded from juvenile court and sent directly to adult court, including:
All youth aged 13-15, regardless of charged offense;
All youth aged 16-17, unless charged with first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or aggravated battery with a firearm;
Youth previously charged or tried in adult criminal court.

Concerning youth who will continue to originate in or be transferred to adult court, the bill expands judicial options for criminal sentencing and requires data and outcome reporting for youth subject to adult charges and sentences.

SB 1560 (known as the “DJJ right-sizing” bill) – bars commitment of youth to state facilities for status offenses and misdemeanor offenses, limits the time youth spend on aftercare supervision following release from state facilities, and requires that youth facing new adult charges be subject to local bond or pretrial detention rather than being returned to a state facility in advance of trial.

In addition, the General Assembly also passed legislation:
1. Reducing certain cannabis possession penalties for youth and adults, adding some record confidentiality protections for youth facing municipal tickets for violations (HB 218)
2. Barring children aged 12 or under from being admitted to a juvenile detention center unless a local youth service/crisis housing provider is contacted first but cannot accept the child (HB 2567)
3. Increasing communities’ ability to establish and participate in local juvenile justice councils (HB 4044)
4. Limiting the use of suspension, expulsion, and zero-tolerance policies in publicly-funded schools (SB 100)
5. Incentivizing educational attainment by youth and adult offenders by reducing the waiting period to seal eligible offense records upon receipt of a degree/certificate (HB 3149)
6. Increasing police accountability to communities [“body cam” guidelines; “receipts” for frisks and searches; data reporting on all stops culminating in detention] (SB 1304)