Juvenile Justice News

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)


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.

• 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.

SB3809 Passes the IL Senate: More Criminalization of Youth and Less Opportunities

The Senate passed SB 3809 prohibiting park districts from hiring juveniles who have committed certain offenses and directing the State Police to do background checks on juveniles when requested by park districts…as State Police do now on adults seeking jobs from park districts.

The bill passed the Senate passed by a vote of 52-0 and will be sponsored in House by Rep. Darlene Senger. If you remember, we asked you back in February to speak out against HB4643. Our thanks to those who did however we now find ourselves in the position of having to ask House Reps NOT to support this bill again. More importantly we are likely to have to ask Governor Quinn not to sign this bill further criminalizing our young people and shutting them out of employment opportunities.

Below is the press release from the bill’s sponsor in the Senate:

Friday, 23 March 2012

Mulroe bill allows broader criminal background checks for potential park employees

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Park districts in Illinois will soon be able to expand criminal background checks for potential hires if a bill sponsored by Senator John Mulroe (D-Chicago) passes the General Assembly. The measure was voted out of the Senate today and now heads to the House floor for consideration.

Currently, park districts are only able to perform criminal background checks for adult convictions for crimes such as murder, attempted murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and other specified serious crimes. Senate Bill 3809 will also allow the park districts to check juvenile court convictions for the same offenses. The measure has the support of the Illinois Association of Park Districts as well as several park districts around the state.

“Park districts typically have young staffs and young patrons in various programs, so it makes sense to have access to juvenile criminal records for juveniles who seek employment with park districts in Illinois,” Mulroe said.

The measure also adds the criminal convictions of stalking, cyberstalking, and aggravated stalking to the list of offenses.

Action Alert: HB5602

UPDATE: This bill passed the house with 99 votes yesterday, March 23rd. HB5602. It passed despite objections from advocates. The bill broadens scope of police reporting to all school officials to include all offenses and those under investigation as well as actually arrested.

HB 5602 (Rep. Sente) amends the School Code and the Juvenile Court Act to allow for “reciprocal reporting” of law enforcement records between “appropriate school official(s)” and local law enforcement agencies when a student has been arrested or “is the subject of a police investigation” for a felony or a Class A or B misdemeanor.

These laws already allow reporting of information to schools when a youth has been arrested, detained or taken into custody for certain offenses, such as unlawful use of a weapon, forcible felonies or violations of the controlled substances, cannabis or methamphetamine acts. This bill would broaden the reporting of law enforcement and juvenile records to schools.

The pending amendment to the bill would also REMOVE language in the original bill to protect the confidentiality of any records shared with schools. The amendment STRIKES language that would have provided that “information derived from the law enforcement records shall be kept separate from and shall not become a part of the official school record of that child and shall not be a public record. The information shall be used solely by the appropriate school official or officials to aid in the proper rehabilitation of the child and to protect the safety of students and employees in the school.”

HB 5602 and the amendment are sponsored by Carol Sente (D), Lake County. It was passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on March 7th with the understanding that it would need further amendment before going to a floor vote.

Please contact Rep. Sente’s office to state your opposition to bill and your concern about further stigmatizing and criminalizing youth. PLEASE DO THIS TODAY AND MONDAY

Representative Carol A. Sente (D)
59th District
Springfield Office:
292-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-0499
(217) 558-1092 FAX

District Office:
430 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Suite 8
Lincolnshire, IL 60069
(847) 478-9909
(847) 478-9960 FAX
Lake County

Gov. Quinn’s FY13 Budget – Juvenile Justice

by Billy Dee

Yesterday Governor Quinn released his budget (PDF)

He specifically mentioned IYC-Joliet and IYC-Murphysboro in his list of 14 state facilities he has targeted for closure. These two facilities are slated to close by July 31, and save the state $17.7 million.

Redeploy IL maintained its current FY12 funding level of $2,485,500.

The Dept of Juvenile Justice budget would shrink from the FY12 actual $141,419,800 to an FY13 proposed level of $125,211,000, based on the two facility closures, but….. aftercare would increase from FY12 level of 9,729,100 to $12,715,100 for FY13.

The DJJ Fact Sheet includes a goal to “rebalance from prison-based to community-based care when appropriate.”

You can view the agency budget breakdown here (PDF).

Call to Action: 2012 Illinois Juvenile Justice Legislation

Project NIA is supporting several bills in this session of the General Assembly that are related to juvenile justice. We would like to share these with you and ask that you please reach out to your representatives about these bills. Please take 10 minutes out of your day to call or e-mail them to let them know that you too support these commonsense bills. Information about how to do this is below.

The UN-marked Campaign — Please check back next week when we will have a bill number for our juvenile expungement reform bill that is being sponsored by Senator Kwame Raoul. More information about this bill will be forthcoming.

HB5492 (Gabel) – Juvenile Reentry Reform (PDF) – This bill sets a time limit for juvenile parole, per the recommendation of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s extensive Youth Reentry Improvement Report, October, 2011. Currently, youth can be held on parole terms lasting until they turn 21.

SB 3194 (PDF) – (Collins) – Preventing Juvenile Records from Going to State Police – This bill ensures confidentiality of juvenile arrests by reenacting protections against sending juvenile arrest records to state police.

SB3195 (PDF) (Collins) – Access to Counsel for youth questioned on murder charge – This bill creates a mandatory presumption against admission of statements by minors made without an attorney in homicide investigations – the presumption applies only to the use of the statements in adult, not juvenile, court. There will be hearing on this bill on Wed February 29 at 9:00 am (Rm 212 Capitol).

SB3196 (PDF) (Collins) – Raise Age of Juvenile Detention to 13 –This bill will make the minimum age for detention (pre-trial confinement) of minors consistent with the current minimum age for for post-trial commitment to Dept of Juvenile Justice. Currently, the minimum age for detention is 10, while the minimum age for commitment to state facilities is 13 – this makes 13 the uniform age for confinement. The number of youth affected is small with 306 youth under the age of 13 held in detention statewide in 2010, based on data from the statewide juvenile detention monitoring system, JMIS.

You can access bill text and full information HERE. You can find the list of the members of the Senate Criminal Law committee HERE.

Please contact the Senate Criminal Law Committee members today and tomorrow about your support specifically for SB3194, SB3195, and SB3196.


Rep. Darlene Senger (R Naperville) and Sen Wilhelmi (he is leaving the Senate so there will be a new sponsor) joined up last year on a bill that required park districts to review juvenile adjudications before hiring youth.

HB 3129 passed the House last April 14th, 86-22. It opens up all juvenile adjudications, and prohibits hiring for the obvious offense of murder, but also for a host of drug offenses. That session day isn’t transcribed yet, but the roll call indicates the Black Caucus opposed the bill……it never got assigned to a committee in the House.

The bill has now been refiled as HB 4643 by Rep Senger. The synopsis is listed below. The bill is pending in House Rules – it has not yet been assigned to a committee:

Prohibits a park district from knowingly employing a minor who has been adjudicated as committing any of the following offenses: (i) unlawful use of weapons, (ii) a violation of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, (iii) a violation of certain provisions of the Cannabis Control Act, (iv) a forcible felony, (v) a violation of the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act, or (vi) a felony or a Class A or B misdemeanor. Provides that the Illinois Department of State Police shall conduct a search of the Illinois criminal history records database to ascertain if a minor applicant being considered for employment with a park district has been adjudicated as committing specified offenses. Amends the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. In provisions concerning the confidentiality of the law enforcement records of minors, provides that the president of a park district may have access to specified records of a minor who is applying for employment with the park district. Effective immediately.

We strongly OPPOSE HB 4643 because it limits youths’ opportunities for a productive future.

What This Bill Does:
HB 4643 requires criminal background checks for minors seeking employment with a park district, prohibits a minor’s employment if he or she has been adjudicated delinquent of certain offenses, and grants access to confidential juvenile court records to park district officials.

Why This Bill is Harmful:
1. The bill creates an unfunded mandate. By expanding the criminal background check requirement to include minors seeking employment with park districts without providing funding to cover the expense of conducting and processing these background checks, local municipalities will be forced to shoulder this additional, significant expense.

2. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the juvenile justice system. By expanding access to confidential juvenile court records, this bill promotes a policy that is contrary to the rehabilitative purposes of the juvenile justice system and unnecessarily limits future opportunities for youth to become productive members of society.

3. The bill fails to ensure the safety of the community. Although proponents of this bill suggest that HB 4643 will ensure added protection for our communities, research indicates that limiting employment opportunities, particularly for youth, increases the likelihood of recidivism.

4. The bill increases the risk of racial disparities. Increasing barriers to employment and expanding access to confidential juvenile records will not only further stigmatize and criminalize youth but will increase the risk of racial disparities in hiring. Punitive legislation such as HB 4643 has consistently been shown to have a disparate impact on youth of color.

Organizations Opposing This Bill Include:
Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Juvenile Justice Initiative
Loyola Civitas ChildLaw Center
Project NIA


Please call or write to the chief sponsor, Darlene Senger, of the bill and tell her that you STRONGLY OPPOSE this bill. We should be increasing opportunities for youth who have been in trouble with the law to have positive and productive futures.

Representative Darlene J. Senger (R)
96th District
Springfield Office:
205A-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-6507
(217) 782-1275 FAX

District Office:
125 Water Street
Naperville, IL 60540
(630) 219-3090
(630) 219-3091 FAX
DuPage County

You can also e-mail her at sengerstaterep@gmail.com.

New Juvenile Justice Law for 2012 in Illinois…

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
Dec. 29, 2011

New laws include shifts in juvenile sentencing process
By Josh Weinhold
Law Bulletin staff writer

SPRINGFIELD — A new state law requires that Illinois judges sentencing minors to state juvenile prison ensure that incarceration is the least restrictive option and that efforts to find alternatives to secure confinement were unsuccessful.

One of about 200 new laws taking effect Sunday, Public Act 97-362 forces courts to review several aspects of a minor’s history prior to sending them to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility.

The act directs judges to consider the minor’s age, criminal background, educational background and physical, mental and emotional health during the sentencing process, while also evaluating any community-based services provided to the minor, if the services were successful and if juvenile justice department services will meet the minor’s needs.

Elizabeth E. Clarke, an attorney and president of the Evanston-based Juvenile Justice Initiative, said the law codifies a procedure already used by many judges throughout the state. Currently, courts are only required to review a presentence report, she said, but will now have a more thorough assessment on hand.

“It will help judges have another tool to have a little bit more information,” she said, “to make sure they find the least restrictive alternative.”

The law also requires courts to ensure reasonable efforts have been made to prevent removing a minor from home. Removal should only happen, the law says, when it is in the best interest of the minor, the minor’s family and the public.

Clarke said the law change will help juveniles, especially nonviolent offenders, receive community-based treatment. Incarceration in a juvenile facility often does not meet the individual needs of a minor, she said, and prevents effective rehabilitation.

“Youth are less likely to offend if kept in the community,” she said.
Sen. Annazette R. Collins, D-Chicago, introduced the legislation when she was a member of the House earlier this year. The law, which passed 73-25 in the House and 51-0 in the Senate, will hopefully lead judges to find the living situation that best fits each juvenile offender, she said.

Collins said minors committing nonviolent crimes should not get away with their offenses, but should not be sent to an institution either.
“If our kids are incarcerated, the likelihood of being successful adults is very slim,” she said. “Once you enter the penal system, it’s almost like you never get out.”

Rep. Jack D. Franks, D-Woodstock, and partner at Franks, Gerkin & McKenna P.C., voted against the legislation. He said he fears the law allows for expungement of juvenile offenses and will prevent judges from fully considering past crimes during sentencing.

State’s attorneys and police chief groups expressed similar concerns, he said.

“I want to make sure the people who are trying to keep us safe have the tools to keep us safe,” Franks said. “I think this went too far.”

Other new laws taking effect Sunday include:
• Public Act 97-16 — Requires all passengers in a moving motor vehicle to wear a seat belt, including adults in rear seats.
• Public Act 97-154 — Known as Andrea’s Law, it creates a first-degree murder database for people convicted of that crime and released from prison. It also places them on the existing registries for sex offenders and murder and violent offenders against youth.
• Public Act 97-157 — Makes the offenses of creating or possessing moving images of child pornography a felony one class higher than still images of child pornography.
• Public Act 97-193 — Adds several varieties of synthetic cannabinoids, which produce an effect similar to marijuana, to the list of Schedule I controlled substances.
• Public Act 97-299 — Under the Open Parole Hearings Act, allows any friend of a victim or concerned citizen to make victim impact statements. It also declares victim impact statements to be public documents and allows the filing of impact statements and notice of sentencing hearings in cases of motor vehicle violations resulting in personal injury or death.
• Public Act 97-311 — Allows a person who directs a third party to commit crimes of stalking, aggravated stalking or cyberstalking to be charged with those offenses.
• Public Act 97-380 — Prevents local governments or county sheriffs from contracting with a private operator to run a correctional facility, a restriction that previously only applied to the state.
• Public Act 97-383 — Requires DNA testing, after a judge or grand jury determines probable cause exists, for arrests on charges of first-degree murder, home invasion, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault. The law also requires testing of any person required to register as a sex offender and any person ordered by the court to submit a DNA specimen.
• Public Act 97-457 — Requires authorities reopening a closed case to provide notice to the victim or the victim’s family, except when state’s attorneys decide doing so would unreasonably interfere with the investigation.
• Public Act 97-467 — Increases the offense of aggravated battery causing great bodily harm or permanent disability and disfigurement to a Class 1 felony when it involves torture or extreme physical pain.
• Public Act 97-523 — Prevents the Prisoner Review Board from releasing information about victims and their families who have filed parole objections. The law aims to protect victims from inmates or their associates who might seek out people challenging their parole.
• Public Act 97-522 — Allows the Prisoner Review Board to schedule a rehearing within five years, instead of three years, from the date of denial if they do not reasonably expect parole to be granted prior to the rehearing date.