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Illinois Lawmakers Consider Trying Young Adults in Juvenile Court

Illinois Lawmakers Consider Trying Young Adults in Juvenile CourtMembers of the Illinois House of Representatives have proposed legislation that would allow young adults to be tried in juvenile court. The bill would amend the Illinois Child and Family Services Act to change the definition of a delinquent minor:

  • Starting in 2019, a delinquent minor would include anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 19; and
  • Starting in 2021, the age limit would expand to anyone who committed a misdemeanor before the age of 21.

Judges would be allowed to decide whether defendants ages 18 to 20 should appear before an adult or juvenile court. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the recidivism rate of younger offenders who may be legal adults but are still maturing mentally.

Benefits

Civil rights groups criticize the prison system for creating career criminals. Younger offenders are locked up with little concern for how they will start a new life upon their release. With limited job skills and a criminal record, some former convicts return to the criminal behavior that initially got them arrested. Going through the juvenile court system has many advantages because the goal is to rehabilitate the offender:

  • A juvenile court may be more lenient about the time an offender must serve;
  • The juvenile detention system provides more opportunities for education and job training; and
  • Juvenile records are easier to expunge than criminal records.

Criticisms

Some lawmakers and members of the criminal justice system are opposed to the potential law change. They argue that it is inappropriate to prosecute people who are legally adults as juveniles. The idea of treating a 20-year-old the same as a 14-year-old seems illogical. They believe that people who are old enough to vote or serve in the military should face adult consequences for criminal offenses. There is also a financial cost that would come with the change. Taking more young adults into the juvenile system would cost the state more money than if they were in adult prisons. It is more expensive to rehabilitate offenders than simply lock them up.

Second Chance

Research suggests that people’s brains continue to develop until they are 26. Thus, the thought process and maturity of people age 18 to 20 may be closer to that of a teenager than an adult. Young offenders deserve the chance to learn the life skills they will need to support themselves as adults. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can get a young defendant’s charges eliminated or reduced. To schedule a consultation, call 630-260-9647.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&SessionId=91&GA=100&DocTypeId=HB&DocNum=4581&GAID=14&LegID=&SpecSess=&Session=

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