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Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Published on: 1/18/2021
As the nation commemorates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today, and racial disparities continue to manifest themselves in juvenile justice systems across the country, we are reminded by Dr. King that we cannot rest. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Illinois Ranks Low in Human Rights Protections for Kids
The Crime Report
Published on: 1/15/2021
The group Human Rights for Kids “examined 12 categories of law it calls ‘vital to establishing a basic legal framework to protect the human rights of kids in the criminal justice system.’ They cover four main areas, including entrance into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, the treatment of children as adults, conditions of confinement, and release and social reintegration of child offenders.”

Illinois, home of the first juvenile court in the country, falls in the third of four tiers based on its lack of a minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction, the automatic transfer of some youth to adult court, its use of solitary confinement, and application of the felony murder rule to youth who lack an intent to kill.
Righting a wrong — and rewriting a racist legacy
The Los Angeles Times
Published on: 1/14/2021
For years, People v. Hester, 39 Ill.2d 489 (1968), was used to deny relief to Illinois defendants challenging the validity of their confessions. To defenders, the case “smelled bad.” “It seemed probable that Lee Arthur Hester, the case’s Black 14-year-old defendant, had falsely confessed to fatally stabbing a white teacher. As they dug into the 1961 conviction, Prof. Steve Drizin and colleagues at Northwestern University became convinced Hester had been railroaded by racist authorities, an injustice that controlled the fate of many boys and girls in the years to come.

Justice came in January (2020). In the same building where a grade-schooler six decades earlier had displayed no emotion when a jury found him guilty of murder, an old man wept as a judge declared his innocence, and recast the racist legacy of Illinois vs. Hester.”
Illinois Lawmakers Pass ‘Transformational’ Criminal Justice Legislation
NPR-WBEZ
Published on: 1/13/2021
“We are fundamentally changing the way that we do criminal justice in this state. We are fundamentally changing the way that law enforcement and communities interact,” said state Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago), a sponsor of the legislation. “This is a complex piece of legislation. It is bold. It is transformational. …This bill is not about who we are. It is about the Illinois that we strive to be.”

Changes affecting Illinois youth include requiring counsel for youth under the age of 18 during questioning in murder and sex cases. Counsel previously was required only for youth under age 16. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for signature.
A Call to Action by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission: Racial Equity in Juvenile Justice
Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
Published on: 1/12/2021
“As a federally mandated State Advisory Group leading a statewide movement to a fairer, more effective, collaborative juvenile justice system, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission recommends Illinois takes the following six steps now to start reducing the harms of juvenile justice system involvement, which are borne disproportionately by youth of color.”
Cops And Mental Health Pros Would ‘Co-Respond’ To Some 911 Calls Under New City Plan
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 1/11/2021
"The Chicago pilot program would pair up cops and mental health care workers, but an alternative ordinance backed by the Progressive Caucus prefers non-police responses to psychological emergencies."
Congress clinches deal to restore Pell grants for prisoners 26 years after ban
Politico
Published on: 1/8/2021
“Congressional leaders have struck a deal to reinstate Pell grants for incarcerated students more than a quarter century after banning the aid for prison education programs, top Democrats and Republicans announced on Sunday. . . . In addition to restoring Pell grant eligibility for incarcerated students, the deal would also repeal a 1998 law that restricts federal financial aid for college students who are convicted of a drug crime.”
Biden Made Big Promises On Juvenile Justice. Activists Worry It's Not Enough
NPR
Published on: 1/7/2021
“President Trump brought big setbacks for juvenile justice, advocacy groups say — and although they like what they've heard from President-elect Joe Biden, some activists still worry about what they call an ongoing crisis.

Trump and Biden both have sought political credit at various times for criminal justice reform, but the picture is nuanced; every year, approximately 76,000 children are prosecuted, sentenced, and incarcerated as adults. In 2018, a child was arrested every 43 seconds. Children of color were twice as likely to be arrested than white children.”
Shifting Incarceration Costs to Counties Could Mean Fewer People Incarcerated, Study Suggests
The Appeal
Published on: 1/6/2021
"If counties are responsible for the costs of incarceration, they may be less likely to imprison people, a new study suggests. . . . Reforms implemented in California in the mid-1990s that increased the cost for counties to incarcerate children lead to a significant drop in children being sent to juvenile prisons."

(Illinois still has fiscal incentives to incarcerate children. The cost of commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice is born by the state, while counties are largely responsible for the cost of community-based sentences. Illinois' Juvenile ReDeploy program shifts those financial incentives -- but not all counties are willing to participate. Perhaps not surprisingly, non-participating counties disproportionately incarcerate youth.)
An Alternative to Police That Police Can Get Behind
The Atlantic
Published on: 1/5/2021
“‘Defund the police’ has sparked polarized debate, in part, because it conveys just one half of an equation, describing what is to be taken away, not what might replace it. Earlier this month, former President Barack Obama called it a ‘snappy slogan’ that risks alienating more people than it will win over to the cause of criminal-justice reform.

Yet the defund idea cannot simply be dismissed. Its backers argue that armed agents of the state are called upon to address too many of society’s problems—problems that can’t be solved at the end of a service weapon. And continued cases of police violence in response to calls for help have provided regular reminders of what can go wrong as a result.”
Aldermen Recommend $300K Payment to Marshall High Student Dragged Down Stairs, Tased by Police
WTTW
Published on: 12/31/2020
"Two Chicago police officers were captured on surveillance video confronting a 16-year-old special education student at Marshall High School on Jan. 29, 2019. When video of the violent altercation between the student and the officers became public, it created a firestorm of controversy that helped fuel a move to remove officers from Chicago Public Schools this summer."
IL judge suggests new young adult circuit court branch
Illinois Courts
Published on: 12/30/2020
Judge Timothy Evans proposes creating a separate young adult court as a “far more humane” alternative to adult criminal court in a recent guest column on the Illinois Courts website.
National Juvenile Defender Center Releases Recommendations for New Administration
National Juvenile Defender Center
Published on: 12/29/2020
Recommendations include restoring youth justice programming, guidance, and staffing, robust data reporting, adequate funding, and an official joint statement that Black lives matter.
Amid Criminal Justice Reform Push, Advocates Say Felony Murder Should Be Next
WGLT
Published on: 12/28/2020
“Criminal justice reform advocates argue that's especially true when juveniles are involved, contending teens' brains are underdeveloped, resulting in more impulsive behavior—especially if they fall in with the ‘wrong crowd.’

Garien Gatewood, program director for the Illinois Justice Project, said it's not uncommon for kids to get caught on felony murder charges and sent to prison for longer than they've been alive—up to 25 years, on top of other charges and sentencing enhancements.

If the point of pursuing those charges is the make communities safer, Gatewood said, prosecutors are missing the point. He said children come out of incarceration worse than when they went in.”
Budget cuts threaten successful youth programming
Belleville News Democrat
Published on: 12/23/2020
“State agencies in Southwestern Illinois are bracing for budget cuts after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a first round that will affect public safety and social services, with promises of more to come. . . . It won’t be the first time Renae Storey, vice president for the southern region of Children’s Home and Aid, will have worked through a fiscal crisis.”

She reflected on the damage inflicted by such cuts. “One of the organization’s programs, for instance, has reduced the number of St. Clair County children going into the juvenile justice system each year from 90 to 10 since 2005. The cost of one year in juvenile corrections costs $160,000, whereas Redeploy Illinois costs roughly $10,000 per child.”
Lightfoot ‘Completely Guts’ Proposal To Ensure People In Police Custody Get A Prompt Phone Call
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 12/22/2020
“Advocates want city law to guarantee a person gets to make a phone call within one hour of being arrested. The mayor's version gives police more discretion. ‘They are playing games with people's lives and people's liberties,’ one alderman said.”
Changing the criminal justice system on behalf of children
PBS
Published on: 12/21/2020
PBS continues its “reporting on the challenges facing former prisoners with Bryan Stevenson, an American lawyer, social justice activist and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.”
How a police contact by middle school leads to different outcomes for Black, white youth
University of Washington News
Published on: 12/18/2020
“For Black youth, an encounter with police by eighth grade predicts they will be arrested by young adulthood – but the same is not true for white youth, a new University of Washington study finds.

Black young adults are 11 times more likely to be arrested by age 20 if they had an initial encounter with law enforcement in their early teens than Black youth who don’t have that first contact.

In contrast, white young adults with early police contact are not significantly more likely to be arrested later, compared with white peers without that history.”
“Left Behind” -- Youth Tried and Sentenced As If They Were Adults, In Their Own Words
The Appeal
Published on: 12/17/2020
“I’ve had a long time to think about what I did when I was 13. That was how old I was when I ceased to be a daughter, sister, niece, student, and friend and became instead a murderer, super predator, killer, felon, criminal, and inmate. What little innocence I had I exchanged for an inmate identification number. I was a 13-year-old charged with second-degree murder.”
Seclusion of Illinois school children used over 10,000 times in a year
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 12/15/2020
"Illinois schools reported putting students into seclusion at least 10,776 times in the 2017-18 school year — up more than 50% from the last time districts sent seclusion data to the federal government, two years earlier.

Over the last year, in response to a November 2019 investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois, the state took several actions to discourage schools from relying on seclusion and physical restraint in response to difficult student behavior. But advocates for students with disabilities say the most recent data offers evidence that the new restrictions need to be enforced and that stronger steps are needed."
Execution Stirs Debate Over Punishment for Young Offenders
New York Times
Published on: 12/14/2020
Brandon Bernard is the second of two teenagers executed by the federal government for an armed robbery committed by four youth when Brandon was 18 years old. The remaining two teens were under 18 at the time and are serving life sentences. Federal executions began this year after a 40-year moratorium.

“The disparate sentences for the teenagers in the case, determined in part by age differences of months or a few years, have put new focus on the distinction between adults and juveniles when it comes to sentencing and what critics of the death penalty see as its arbitrary application.”
Justice-involved young adults tout a promising initiative for young incarcerated people
The Washington Post
Published on: 12/11/2020
Two program mentors with the program explain, “This issue is personal for us: We are both Black men who were in the justice system as emerging adults, ended up serving long prison terms and worked as mentors to currently incarcerated young adults. We are social justice advocates who have a combined 50-plus years of incarceration. . . . Our lived experience is that evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions for emerging adults can have an outsize positive impact on racial justice and public safety. One model we are proud to share is the D.C. Jail’s Young Men Emerging Unit (YME), a successful program that blends mentorship and counseling to reach the young adult population.”
Incarcerated and Detained Youth Face Hurdles When Returning to School
Juvenile Law Center
Published on: 12/10/2020
“Juvenile Law Center, Education Law Center-PA, and Southern Poverty Law Center are excited to share their new report Credit Overdue: How States Can Mitigate Academic Credit Transfer Problems for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. This report details the numerous challenges facing youth when it comes to their educational experiences in juvenile justice facilities with a focus on problems with academic credit transfer.

Credit Overdue highlights new survey data from the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University of 208 professionals around the country that confirms youth frequently do not receive academic credit for the schoolwork they complete inside juvenile justice facilities and the devastating consequences of this practice. The report also includes recommendations for legislative reforms to mitigate credit transfer problems.”
It’s time to finally give incarcerated people access to Pell grants
The Washington Post
Published on: 12/9/2020
“Earning a quality education plays a critical role in the successful reentry of formerly incarcerated people into their communities. Nationwide, more than 95 percent of people in prison will eventually be released, but more than a third will return to prison within three years. However, incarcerated people with access to education and skills training are about 48 percent less likely to return to prison than those without. When we empower incarcerated people to start down a meaningful career path upon returning to the community, the cycle of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system is positively disrupted.”
Preventing Youth Arrests through Deflection: Best Practices and Recommendations
Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
Published on: 12/8/2020
The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission has issued a report on the use of deflection in lieu of arrest to prevent the unnecessary involvement of Illinois youth in the juvenile court system. The research-informed best-practices in the report “are not only applicable for the City of Chicago in determining their best course of action regarding current diversion and deflection programs, such as the Juvenile Intervention & Support Center (JISC), but for communities across Illinois who are dedicated to reducing the number of youth who come in contact with the juvenile justice system.

In light of the profound racial disparities evident in our state's juvenile systems and the growing body of research on fair and effective practices, getting this right has never mattered more than it does today.”
Prosecutor, Defender, and Public Health Law Organizations Call for Prioritizing Carcerals Settings
Published on: 12/7/2020
“‘Incarcerated individuals have higher rates of asthma, diabetes and heart disease, which makes them especially vulnerable to COVID,’ said CHLP Executive Director Catherine Hanssens. ‘A disproportionate number are Black and Hispanic, from communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Federal, state, and local governments have an ethical and legal responsibility to protect the health of incarcerated individuals and all others in the criminal legal system, which in turn protects the health of communities.’”
Illinois Supreme Court Amends Rule 23 to Permit Citation of Unpublished Appellate Court Rulings
Illinois Supreme Court
Published on: 12/3/2020
"As of January 1, 2021, litigants will be allowed to cite unpublished Illinois Appellate Court opinions for persuasive purposes thanks to an amendment to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23. The Supreme Court, which announced the amendment last week, cited the availability of text-searchable electronic legal research databases as an impetus for the change."

(Beginning January 1, 2021, the Juvenile Defender Resource Center Case Law Summaries will include all unpublished decisions in delinquency appeals and significant Rule 23 decisions in criminal cases involving youth.)
With COVID-19 surging anew, alarms sound again for Cook County’s incarcerated
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 12/2/2020
“More than 20 residents of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have tested positive in the past month, a dramatic increase over the numbers reported at the end of spring and early summer.

The staff numbers are alarming as well, with more than 70 people who work at the near West Side facility now reported to have tested positive during the entire pandemic.”
Op-Ed: Why America is still living with the damage done by the ‘superpredator’ lie
Los Angeles Times
Published on: 12/1/2020
“Twenty-five years ago, John DiIulio, a political science professor, created and disseminated one of the most dangerous and lethal lies in our history. He coined the term ‘superpredator,’ depicting Black children as remorseless animals who would prey on victims.

Even when DiIulio admitted being wrong about his predictions, his retraction could not dislodge this country’s already-formed assumptions that young Black males were coldblooded and dangerous. Today, virtually every state still permits middle schoolers to be prosecuted as adults, exposing them to adult punishment. The overwhelming majority of those kids are Black.

What made this superpredator story so easy to swallow — and so stubbornly intractable?”
Blaming Chicago’s Violence On Bail Reform Is Wrong, A New Study Finds
WBEZ
Published on: 11/30/2020
“‘What we show is that the risk of new criminal activity is relatively low and the risk of new violent criminal activity is extremely low.’ The most common new charge for the alleged reoffenders was drug possession, followed by drug dealing and retail theft. Just 3 percent of people released allegedly committed a violent crime while out awaiting trial, according to the report. ‘The only way to reduce that to zero would be to hold the other 97 [percent] … in jail pretrial.’”
Juvenile Defenders Mourn the Loss of a Leader in the Move to Abolish Isolation for Youth
The New York Times
Published on: 11/25/2020
Alexandra Korry "saw the issue as a moral one. 'Consigning children and young adults to the degradation of solitary confinement is inconsistent with any standard of decency,' she said when the committee’s report was released. 'Subjecting Blacks and Latinos disproportionately to such terror is unconscionable.'"

(The use of solitary confinement/isolation is still not prohibited by statute or rule for children in Illinois.)
Chicagoans Want Money Reallocated From Police Budget, City-Sponsored Survey Shows
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 11/24/2020
“At a time when policy analysts say Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s task of presenting a balanced budget amid an economic downturn due to the pandemic is already 'a challenge,' a citywide survey released by the mayor’s office shows nearly nine in 10 respondents support reallocating city resources away from police.”
Chicago’s Top Cop Tells Recruits They May Need To Ignore Trainers And Supervisors To Do What’s Right
WBEZ
Published on: 11/23/2020
“Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown repeatedly referenced the police killing of George Floyd in a speech to the city’s newest class of police recruits Tuesday, telling the soon-to-be officers they may need to buck the department’s culture, and even their own trainers, to do what’s right.”
NYC lawyer pardoned by Illinois gov two decades after teen robbery conviction
New York Daily News
Published on: 11/20/2020
“A veteran New York City public defender who spent two years in prison as a teenager on robbery charges has received a pardon from the governor of Illinois, decades after his conviction.

‘It was this long journey, over a decade in the making,’ Thomas Kim said of the pardon he finally received last month. ‘You know, validation does feel good.’”
Campaign for Youth Justice Releases Report on Prosecuting Children as Adults
Campaign for Youth Justice
Published on: 11/19/2020
“According to a new report from the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) – 'Winning the Campaign: State Trends in Fighting the Treatment of Children As Adults in the Criminal Justice System (2005-2020)' – the number of children prosecuted as adults has plummeted over the past 15 years, and more laws passed and implemented over the past three years are likely to reduce those numbers further.

This final CFYJ report, in addition to reviewing past legislative successes, also looks forward to the year 2021 and beyond, and calls for robust action to address persistent racial disparities, and to confront the emerging revival of open racism that undermines the current consensus and sees youth – particularly youth of color – as dangerous predators to be feared rather than as children in need of support and with the potential to succeed.”
Chicago police more likely to stop Black drivers without citing them, data investigation reveals
ABC News
Published on: 11/18/2020
"An I-Team data investigation of racial disparities in Chicago Police Department traffic stops shows Black drivers are far more likely to be stopped by Chicago Police than white drivers. New evidence also shows Black drivers are more likely to be pulled over for no reason at all.

The number of traffic stops in Chicago is significantly increasing. In 2014, Chicago police only pulled over 87,355 people. Last year alone they pulled over a half a million more drivers than five years ago."
Advocates Demand Aldermen Pass Law Requiring Detainees Get A Phone Call In First Hour
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 11/17/2020
"Just 2 percent of people arrested get access to an attorney while in custody of Chicago police. An ordinance could help change that, advocates said."
Illinois legislators discuss statewide police reforms
Capitol News
Published on: 11/16/2020
"In the wake of a police shooting that left one teenager dead and a woman injured last week in Waukegan, lawmakers met in a joint hearing of the Senate Criminal Law Committee and Senate Special Committee on Public Safety to discuss statewide reforms for law enforcement.

Lawmakers and witnesses discussed body cameras, mandatory data collection, increased transparency around police shootings, residency requirements for officers and changes to how allegations of police misconduct are handled. Public defenders, state’s attorneys, municipal officials and law enforcement all gave testimony."
Tackling Racial Disparity Called Key to Youth Justice Reform
The Crime Report
Published on: 11/13/2020
“Racial disparities are at the core of what’s wrong with today’s approach to youth justice, and little will change unless authorities recognize that, according to a leading youth advocate. . . . [T]he pandemic, in a curious way, may have opened the door to real change.

With many youth facilities releasing young people or reducing the number of those inside because of the risk of infection, authorities have begun to realize that keeping kids close to their communities and families presents little risk to public safety. . . ‘Everything we know tells us that locking kids up doesn’t work,’ said Balis. ‘Interventions in the community is a much more effective way to reduce the likelihood of them coming back in the system.’”
Feds ban solitary confinement for kids in prison, but state juvenile facilities still use isolation
The Oregonian
Published on: 11/12/2020
“‘There is no single standard for anything in the United States when it comes to crime and punishment, which is usually to everyone’s detriment,’ said Ian Kysel, a visiting assistant clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School.

“Advocates, researchers, legislators and psychologists agree on the long-lasting, detrimental effects solitary confinement has on youth and adults alike. Despite overwhelming evidence and pressure from these groups, solitary confinement still is utilized in nearly every state for one reason or another. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 16 states use it without limitations.”

(Illinois is one of several states that do not have a court rule or statute banning the use of solitary confinement ("isolation") for youth.)
Will A New High Court Swing Against Juvenile Lifers?
Law 360
Published on: 11/11/2020
“After last week's oral arguments in a U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the sentencing of juvenile offenders, advocates on both sides say it's unclear how the court, which has changed in composition since the last major rulings on the issue, will interpret those precedents.

Observers said the justices didn't give much away during their questioning Tuesday in Jones v. Mississippi, which concerns how states should interpret and implement a previous high court ruling that declared life without parole sentences for juvenile offenders to be unconstitutional unless a defendant was found to be ‘permanently incorrigible.’”
UPDATE: Out of Jail and Back in School, Grace Finds Her Voice
Pro Publica
Published on: 11/9/2020
“'Your past does not define you,'” Grace said in her first public event. The Michigan teen’s case sparked national outrage and the #FreeGrace campaign after she was sent to juvenile detention for not completing online schoolwork."
Misdemeanor Offenses And Racism In The Criminal System
NPR
Published on: 11/6/2020
“The police killings of George Floyd, Eric Garner and other black men and women began with allegations of a minor offense, such as passing a counterfeit $20 bill or selling individual, untaxed cigarettes. Misdemeanors — these types of low-level criminal offenses — account for about 80% of all arrests and 80% of state criminal dockets.”

(In Illinois, over 80 percent of youth arrests are for misdemeanors and petty offenses. And while youth convicted of misdemeanor offenses can no longer be incarcerated in the Department of Juvenile Justice, youth as young as 10 years old can still be incarcerated pre-trial in Illinois detention centers.)
Conservatives and progressives agree Jones v. Mississippi should affirm fundamental principles
Published on: 11/5/2020
“Brett Jones was barely 15 when he killed his grandfather in 2004 during an argument. He was a profoundly traumatized kid who had fled a violent home only to find himself in circumstances he again perceived as life-threatening. A Mississippi court sentenced him to serve the rest of his life in prison, with no chance of release.

His case gives the Supreme Court an opportunity to restate a settled principle: No child may be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole unless the sentencing court determines that he is the rare individual who is beyond rehabilitation.”

See these three articles, including two from conservative thought leaders, supporting Jones.
Criminal Justice Reform Should Decriminalize Addiction, Advocates Say
The Appeal
Published on: 11/3/2020
“As jurisdictions around the country start to examine and redress the harms of police violence and incarceration, activists and professionals in addiction treatment and harm reduction urge that such steps also take the drug war into consideration, including the punitive models of treatment that are rooted to the carceral system.”

(In Illinois, there’s a less harmful alternative to delinquency court for youth with substance abuse issues in Article IV of the Juvenile Court Act. Raise the Article IV alternative with prosecutors and courts as a way to intervene without the stigma, record, and less successful outcomes of delinquency court.)
Listen to Jones v. Mississippi Oral Argument
Published on: 11/2/2020
In recent years, the United States Supreme Court has provided important protections against the extreme sentencing of youth. The court can potentially narrow the scope of those decisions in Mississippi v. Jones. You can listen to the oral arguments live tomorrow.
Prisons Are a Public Health Crisis, the American Public Health Association Says
Mic
Published on: 10/30/2020
“The U.S. incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, spending trillions of federal, state, and local tax dollars on jails, immigration detention centers, pre-trial detention, and prison upkeep.

Specifically, the recommendations concern the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been especially deadly in jails and prisons. America must ‘immediately and urgently reduce the number of people incarcerated in jails, prisons, and detention centers, regardless of conviction, especially in light of pressing concerns related to COVID-19 transmission," the APHA said.’ The guidelines also advocate for long-term solutions to the nation’s incarceration crisis.”
West Side Police Districts Participate in Community Training Academy
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 10/29/2020
“The training includes a community immersion program led by residents. ‘It’s important for someone who has a role in determining someone’s freedom or not to understand that it is not just simply bad character of the of the residents of these communities,’ said Burrell Poe, an Austin resident who facilitating some officer trainings.

The program, which is codesigned by the Metropolitan Peace Academy of Metro Family Services, includes trauma-informed trainings and teaches officers how implicit bias may influence policing. The training sessions facilitated by Poe emphasize the city’s history of segregation, disinvestment in the West Side and policies rooted in racism.”
Policing Studies Measure Benefits to Crime Reduction – But Not Social Costs
The Appeal
Published on: 10/28/2020
“Local governments collectively spend roughly $100 billion per year on policing, and with big cities dedicating about 15 percent (if not more) of their budgets to police, a growing number of people are asking if it may make more sense to spend some of that money elsewhere, like on drug treatment, mental health, social work, or shelter.”

(Illinois Redeploy currently provides funding to participating counties to pay for community-based services for youth in the delinquency system as an alternative to incarceration. If your county isn’t one of the participants who have successfully reduced their commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice, explore why.)
How the Racism Baked Into Technology Hurts Teens
The Atlantic
Published on: 10/27/2020
“Acts of technological racism might not always be so blatant, but they are largely unavoidable. Black defendants are more likely to be unfairly sentenced or labeled as future re-offenders, not just by judges, but also by a sentencing algorithm advertised in part as a remedy to human biases. Predictive models methodically deny ailing Black and Hispanic patients’ access to treatments that are regularly distributed to less sick white patients. Examples like these abound.

Research suggests that being on the receiving end of discrimination is correlated with poor mental-health outcomes across all ages. And when youth of color experience discrimination, their sleep, academic performance, and self-esteem might suffer. Experiencing discrimination can even alter gene expression across the life span.”
The Cycle of Punitive Justice Starts in Schools. Showing Kids and Teachers How to Break It
Mother Jones
Published on: 10/26/2020
“The idea of restorative justice is not But amid our national reckoning with systemic racism and a punishment-oriented legal system, it’s an approach that’s gaining steam in the United States.

Traditional justice asks what law has been broken and demands retribution. Depending on whether you robbed a store or killed somebody, the penalty can range from a jail term to execution. Restorative justice, by contrast, asks: Who has been harmed? How? If there is a perpetrator and a victim, could one make amends to the other? Is there room for mediation? For an apology? For forgiveness? For acts of service that would make victims—and the communities they are part of—feel healed?”
Kyle Rittenhouse Deserves the Kind of Mercy My Son Did Not Receive
Elder G. Yusef Qualls
Published on: 10/22/2020
Justice and mercy can coexist. Life sentences for juvenile offenders are wrong no matter who the offender is. Yusef Qualls doesn’t deserve to die in prison, and neither does alleged Wisconsin shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, writes Qualls’ father.
Ending cash bail, more rehab part of Pritzker prison plan
The Associated Press
Published on: 10/20/2020
“Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced proposals to end cash bail, change theft and drug-crime sentencing to give criminals opportunities to escape addiction and creating more rehabilitation options to reduce long sentences.

The ideas are among seven ‘guiding principles’ unveiled for negotiations with the General Assembly over criminal justice reform, an initiative announced in January and spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and pushed forward for decades by the Legislative Black Caucus.”
More than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct, study finds
The Washington Post
Published on: 10/19/2020
"Misconduct can be intentional or unintentional, but either way innocent people are found guilty.

And then there are cases where people plead guilty simply to get out of jail rather than wait months for trial, although the evidence later clears them. 'My guess is,' Gross said, 'the most common cause of false convictions is pretrial detention,' often in low-level drug or theft cases.

Fair and Just Prosecution, which supports liberal prosecutors across the country, has called on local district attorneys to create a 'Misdemeanor Post-Conviction Integrity' process, saying that 'integrity issues in misdemeanor cases are as, if not more, profound as concerns arising in felony cases, for numerous reasons.' But Krinsky said she was not aware of any prosecutors who have tried that approach."
National Juvenile Defender Center Issues Statements on Racial Justice and Equity
NJDC
Published on: 10/16/2020
“As injustice continues to unfold around us, our team at the National Juvenile Defender Center is adding our intentional commitments to racial justice and equity to our vision. In a week where we lost the opportunity to hold law enforcement accountable for the death of Breonna Taylor we want to share these vision statements on Racial Justice and on Equity. As we face all that 2020 has brought and will bring, we hope to follow Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s example of harnessing the Constitution to break down the structures by which the state maintains and enforces spheres of inequality.”
‘The Doors Don’t Lock’ in DC Jail Program for Young Adults
The Crime Report
Published on: 10/15/2020
“A program that houses long-term incarcerated individuals together with younger ones offers an alternative model of incarceration centered on education, personal growth, and transformation, and has helped foster an unprecedented ‘culture change’ in the Washington, D.C. jail, according to a recent report issued by the Justice Policy Institute.”
'Strengthen the Sixth' Website Launched
Published on: 10/14/2020
“The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in partnership with the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Center for State Courts, and RTI International are pleased to announce the launch of StrengthenTheSixth.org, a website dedicated to the core values and principles enshrined in the Sixth Amendment. The website will serve as a resource for criminal legal system actors and the community as a whole, focusing on some of the key tenets of the Sixth Amendment including the right to a speedy and public trial, an impartial and representative jury, to have access to witnesses and evidence, and the right to counsel.”

(With the exception of the right to a jury trial, the rights in the Sixth Amendment are guaranteed to youth in delinquency court via the due process protections of In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967), and Section 5-101(3) of the Illinois Juvenile Court Act.)
To Charge or Not to Charge? How Prosecutors Drive Mass Incarceration
The Crime Report
Published on: 10/13/2020
“The large number of Americans behind bars may be in part a consequence of prosecutors’ determination to level charges for offenses that in other circumstances might not have merited punishment, according to a forthcoming paper in the Southern California Law Review."

(In addition to the traditional charging motivations in adult court, filing a delinquency petition is sometimes seen as a way to help or provide services to children. But given the life-altering consequences of system involvement for youth, and the racial disparities that exist, defenders can have an important role – both in court and on their local juvenile justice councils – in educating stakeholders about the harm from unnecessary delinquency interventions and the critical importance of robust diversion programming.)
New Report on Youth Justice Under the Coronavirus
The Sentencing Project
Published on: 10/9/2020
“The Sentencing Project released its new report, Youth Justice Under the Coronavirus: Linking Public Health Protections to the Movement for Youth Decarceration. This report summarizes lessons learned through the first months of the pandemic, focusing on system responses to slow the virus’s spread to protect the safety and wellbeing of youth in the juvenile justice system.”
‘A Battle for the Souls of Black Girls’
New York Times
Published on: 10/8/2020
“Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years. But Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the United States.”

“Statistically, Black boys have led the country in suspensions, expulsions and school arrests, and the disparities between them and white boys have been a catalyst for national movements for change. But Black girls’ discipline rates are not far behind those of Black boys; and in several categories, such as suspensions and law enforcement referrals, the disparities between Black and white girls eclipse those between Black and white boys.”
Illinois Supreme Court hires its first diversity officer
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 10/7/2020
“Deciding to ‘put concrete action’ toward racial justice following recent social unrest, the Illinois Supreme Court has appointed its first-ever diversity officer. . . . The court saw an opportunity to speak to the history of ‘the disproportionate impact the application of certain laws, rules, policies and practices have had on the African American population, the Latinx community, and other people of color in Illinois and nationally.’”
Student Arrest Records A ‘Disturbing Mess’ At Illinois School Districts
Illinois Public Media
Published on: 10/6/2020
"Twenty-one Champaign Unit 4 students were arrested during the 2013-14 school year — 19 of them were Black — according to documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. During the 2015-16 school year, 17 students were arrested — of which 15 were Black.

But the federal government thinks there were no arrests. That’s because the district reported to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights that not a single student was arrested over the course of multiple school years dating back to 2013." Unit 4 isn't alone in it's poor reporting practices.
Study Finds Court Involvement Linked to Lower School Attendance
the Council of State Governments Justice Center
Published on: 10/5/2020
A new study looking at the effect of juvenile court involvement – particularly probation – on school attendance found that attendance actually decreased for court-involved youth. The researchers also examined school practices and policies that discourage youth engagement and success.

The report and accompanying materials contain concrete recommendations and serve as a springboard for local school and court systems to examine whether their community’s school discipline polices and juvenile court practices are the most appropriate and effective ways to help kids succeed in school.
Could This City Hold the Key to the Future of Policing in America?
New York Times
Published on: 10/2/2020
"The Camden Police Department’s efforts to reduce its use of force have made it one of the most compelling turnaround stories in U.S. law enforcement. The changes have led to a stark reduction in the number of excessive-force complaints against the police and have helped drive down the murder rate in what was once one of America’s most dangerous cities."
New Podcast - “Walk, Listen and Learn: Our Journey to Justice”
Published on: 10/1/2020
Take a walk with Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton and special guests during the month of October in this series that combines self-care and justice. "Each episode in the series will offer an introduction to various aspects of justice from subject-matter experts. We hope listeners will enjoy the conversation, and ultimately be better equipped to understand and advocate for equity and opportunity."
How Losing RBG Could Shape Criminal Justice For Years to Come
The Marshall Project
Published on: 9/30/2020
"The upcoming case Jones v. Mississippi, to be argued before the high court on Nov. 3, is all about what steps a court must take to show that it has seriously considered the question of youth rehabilitation.

The defendant, Brett Jones, who was abused as a child and committed a murder at age 15 during a domestic dispute, has since expressed deep remorse and become educated and religious, according to testimony by corrections officials. He will argue that a judge can’t simply note his rehabilitation before re-sentencing him to life in prison. Rather, the judge must specifically rule on whether or not he is permanently incapable of positive change.”
Debate over school resource officers once again ignited in Urbana
Champaign News Gazette
Published on: 9/29/2020
Fulltime police officers were placed in Urbana middle and high schools in response to a 2019 fight that injured a teacher and resulted in 11 arrests. But with school buildings shuttered and school-based arrests pushing youth into a juvenile court system ill-equipped to help them, the community is debating anew how $327,000 a year might be better spent elsewhere.
A Tale of Two School Districts
CBS Morning News and Reason
Published on: 9/28/2020
In Philadelphia, school arrests dropped by 84 percent in five years after a diversion program was created to deal with school discipline issues. While in Florida, schools experienced a surge in arrests and physical restraints after additional police officers were placed in schools.

A bill currently pending in Congress aims to “divert Federal funding away from supporting the presence of police in schools and toward evidence-based and trauma informed services that address the needs of marginalized students and improve academic outcomes, and for other purposes.”
Data Shows Dozens Of Pre-Teen Illinois Kids Detained In 2020
The Patch
Published on: 9/25/2020
"Juvenile-justice advocates say Illinois is failing its children by allowing kids as young as 10 years old to be locked-up without being found guilty of a crime." Although Illinois prohibits the incarceration of youth younger than 13 post-trial, and requires that incarceration be a disposition of last resort, these protections don't exist for the pre-trial detention of youth accused of a crime.
True Lies: How to End Abuses of Police Interrogation
The Crime Report
Published on: 9/24/2020
“As the nation focuses on police reform, law enforcement agencies are under increasing pressure to weed out recruits who show signs of potential violent or unstable behavior, and to correct the kind of over-aggressive policing that results in the deaths of unarmed civilians. But they need to spend as much energy and time in changing abusive or coercive interrogation practices that lead to the conviction of innocent individuals and undermine community confidence in the justice system, according to a former Washington, D.C. detective.”

These coercive techniques are even more likely to result in coerced and false confessions in youth. Yet in Illinois, as elsewhere, there are insufficient safeguards in place to protect youth, who waive their Miranda rights 90% of the time.
Far from Being Beyond Saving, Prison Youth Deserve Every Opportunity for Meaningful Rehabilitation
The Appeal
Published on: 9/23/2020
“‘Left Behind,’” a collaboration between The Appeal and Oregon Justice Resource Center, presents firsthand accounts of growing up in prison from individuals sentenced as children to 25 years-to-life. Inspired by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which prohibits the imposition of a mandatory sentence of death in prison for children, this series reveals the humanity of those given life sentences by asking: What obligations do we have as a community of not leaving them behind? Each of the primary authors is incarcerated in the Oregon state correctional system.”
Conviction, Imprisonment, and Lost Earnings
The Brennan Center
Published on: 9/22/2020
“Encounters with the criminal justice system can depress wages for the entirety of a career. Black and Latino Americans suffer these consequences most acutely.” The same is true for youth involved in the delinquency system.
Today we mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Jackie Bullard
Published on: 9/21/2020
Today we mourn the loss of a warrior sister who paved the way for all women, including those proud to call themselves public defenders. We honor her for joining the majority in Roper, Graham, Miller, and Montgomery. And, as she would expect us to do, we examine and vow to fight the gender biases still present in our profession and juvenile court system.

In Illinois, as in the rest of the country, girls continue to enter the system for “offenses” like truancy, running away, and curfew violations that frequently don’t merit the same legal response for boys. And once ensnared, girls are disproportionately incarcerated for low level offenses. Justice Ginsburg spoke truth to power in 1973 when, in her first argument before an all-male Supreme Court, she invoked the words of Sara Grimke, a woman who aspired to law school at a time when women were not admitted. “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.” We’re obligated to do the same.
Even in the Time of Remote Learning, Police Manage to Arrest Students
The Washington Post
Published on: 9/18/2020
A Black seventh-grader with attention-deficit disorder was playing with a “Zombie Hunter” toy gun during a virtual art class. After consulting with their school resource officer, the school called the police. The boy was suspended for five days for bringing a “facsimile of a firearm to school” and now has a record with the local sheriff’s office. The boy’s mother, who feared for her son’s life when she heard law enforcement was on the way to her home, “never thought: ‘You can’t play with a Nerf gun in your own home because somebody may perceive it as a threat and call the police on you,’”

On the other side of the country, a Long Island student who had been protesting his school district's hybrid learning plan was suspended from school. When he arrived at school two days later to attend class on a virtual learning day, he was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
DCFS Faces A Housing Crisis Affecting Dual Involved Youth in the Juvenile Court System
NPR
Published on: 9/17/2020
“The state is barely three years out of a prolonged budget stalemate under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, which left Illinois’ human services sector severely weakened, and resulted in a surge of need in the child welfare system.” Because of the resulting shortage of beds, “[s]ometimes, children who have served their time in juvenile detention or finished a stint in a psychiatric hospital are held in those settings beyond the time they’re supposed to be there if there’s no bed available in a less restrictive setting. ‘Those places are not benign places,’ [ICOY CEO Andrea] Durbin said. ‘Being stuck in a hospital, prison, or detention center are not neutral experiences; it’s a traumatic experience…People don’t get back the days of their lives. You don’t get a do-over on your childhood.’”
Police interrogators need clear guidelines on when sleep deprivation amounts to torture
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 9/16/2020
“The International Association of Chiefs of Police recommends that police officers get at least 48 hours to rest up before they are interviewed about an incident in which they were involved. But that standard does not apply to crime suspects and witnesses, who often are interrogated for many hours while in a state of extreme sleep deprivation. In the interest of true justice, Illinois should set a clear standard for how long witnesses and suspects can be questioned before they are allowed to get some rest.”

(Ironically, even children in Illinois lack this basic protection. For example, in In re G.O., 191 Ill. 2d 37 (2000), the Illinois Supreme Court found a 3 a.m. confession by a 13-year-old was voluntary. A bill currently pending in the Illinois legislature (HB 4609) would provide attorneys to all children under age 18 during interrogation in cases that could trigger adult sentencing.)
Presiding Judge of the Cook County Juvenile Division not Endorsed for Retention
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 9/15/2020
“'(Advocates) universally opposed Judge Toomin’s retention as presiding judge on the grounds that he lacked the appropriate temperament to lead the juvenile justice courts, is obstructing efforts at reforming the juvenile justice courts and pursues an outdated approach to juvenile justice,'” said the chair of the Democratic party’s judicial retention committee. Judge Toomin called the lack of endorsement retaliation due to his appointment of a special prosecutor in the Jussie Smollett case.
Investigation Focuses On U.S. Juvenile Justice, Issues Of Race
KJZZ Radio
Published on: 9/14/2020
“At a time when the country is grappling with racial inequality, reporters from across the U.S. with the News21 project set out to investigate the country's juvenile justice system. They call the project ‘Kids Imprisoned,’ and among their findings was evidence of the effect race has on juvenile cases across the country.” Oftentimes, “schools can be feeders into the juvenile justice system.”
Amid protests, Chicago BOE votes to keep school police, but also moves to create phase-out plan
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 9/11/2020
“The Chicago Board of Education will enter into another yearlong contract with the Chicago Police Department, this time not to exceed $12.1 million. In the meantime, the board gave Chicago Public Schools seven months to come up with a comprehensive plan to help schools develop alternative school safety strategies.

‘This is a bad move by the Board of Education,’ Watts said. ‘As young people, we have been telling CPS exactly what we need, and CPS is continuing to play games with our future. This is not right. What we need is for CPS to invest in us, not to continue to criminalize us.’”
Thousands of Children On Probation Are Incarcerated Each Year for Nonviolent, Noncriminal Behaviors
The Appeal
Published on: 9/10/2020
"Experts say Black and Native children are disproportionately jailed either for status offenses or for technical violations of probation or parole—and that incarcerating them has far-reaching negative consequences. Studies have found that risks include depression, suicide or other self-harm, insurmountable debt, educational and professional instability, and an increased risk of future arrests for actual crimes."

(Illinois allows judges to incarcerate youth for non-criminal probation violations. And despite the fact that Illinois isn't a "valid court order" state, contempt is still used in some counties in lieu of probation violations in order to hold youth beyond the detention limits in our Juvenile Court Act. If you're a juvenile defender who wants to challenge these practices, contact the Juvenile Defender Resource Center.)
Jonathan Rapping debuts new book, ‘Gideon’s Promise’ to advocate for public defenders
The Atlanta Voice
Published on: 9/9/2020
“'Not only can Lady Justice see, Lady Justice only looks for certain populations. From the moment that Lady Justice decides who to monitor, who to police, who to control, where resources are concentrated — in poor communities, disproportionately communities of color — to decisions that Lady Justice makes about who to charge and what to charge them with, how to treat them once they’re convicted — not only is Lady Justice not blind, Lady Justice targets certain populations in this in this society.'

Perhaps no other time in modern American history, sans the Civil Rights Movement, has this harsh reality been so vividly exemplified. 'A public defender movement, with a renewed vision for public defense, is critical to transforming the culture,' Rapping penned in his book. 'It starts with a client-centered vision of public defense leading to a defender-driven movement to transform systemic assumptions.'”
A tale of two studies - bias training for law enforcement changed attitudes but not behavior
The Wall Street Journal & The Crime Report
Published on: 9/8/2020
A study of New York law enforcement found that racial bias training resulted in positive attitude changes toward people of color. But a study of Vermont law enforcement showed that racial bias training had little effect on behavior when it came to traffic stops.
We Already Have a Tool That Lowers Crime, Saves Money and Shrinks the Prison Population
Politico
Published on: 9/4/2020
“It’s time for Congress to rescind the ban on Pell Grants for the incarcerated. Providing education to the incarcerated is a win-win — it reduces future crime rates and saves public funds that otherwise would be spent keeping people in jail or prison. Luckily, lawmakers are beginning to introduce legislation to support these goals. A repeal of the Pell Grant ban was included in an appropriations ‘minibus’ bill passed out of the House at the end of July; it currently is waiting for action by the Senate. If successful, this measure promises a new era of learning — and safety.”
West Side Teens Take Cops On Neighborhood Tour, Have Mixed Feelings On Expanded Community Policing
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 9/3/2020
"Led by neighborhood teens, Chicago Police officers toured North Lawndale on Wednesday as part of a larger city initiative to build better relationships between police and communities. Teens in My Block, My Hood, My City‘s Explorer’s program led the tours, bringing recruits from the Chicago Police Training Academy to schools, gardens and their favorite shops to show them what Lawndale looks like to the people who live there."
Judge cuts sentence in half for Chicago man charged with murder at 16
Injustice Watch
Published on: 9/2/2020
Dimitri Buffer “was resentenced on Tuesday to serve 25 years in prison for a murder he committed at age 16, more than a year after the Illinois Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in his case triggered additional sentencing protections for juvenile offenders serving mandatory prison terms of more than 40 years. [Judge] Wilson recalled that Buffer had rejected a plea deal that would have resulted in a 20-year sentence, which indicated to the judge that the teen didn’t fully grasp how much prison time he could be facing. ‘It weighs heavy on me as the court to see someone who doesn’t understand the gravity of what they’re doing and what a case and a trial is all about, and what they’re really risking,’ Wilson said.”
‘I thanked the Creator.’ Man wins freedom after COVID-19 delays, change on teenage sentencing
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 9/1/2020
“About 70 of the roughly 100 Illinois inmates once sentenced to life without parole as juveniles have been resentenced following the state and federal court rulings, according to Shobha Mahadev, a clinical associate professor at Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center. Most have received shorter sentences, some have been freed, and a handful have been resentenced to life in prison again, Mahadev said.”
Arlington prosecutor goes to Va. Supreme Court against judges who challenge her new policies
Washington Post
Published on: 8/31/2020
“It’s the latest battle between law enforcement entities that have seen cases handled a certain way for decades, and prosecutors who want to try a new way. ‘Tellingly,’ the supporting prosecutors wrote, 'courts historically did not interfere with prosecutorial discretion when that discretion was being used to ramp up prison and jail populations and fuel "tough on crime" thinking and mass incarceration. It is particularly troubling that, now, as reform-minded prosecutors are being elected in cities and counties across the country, courts are intervening in charging and prosecutorial decisions perceived by some to be too lenient.’”
Study: More Cops in Schools Lead to Harsher Discipline, Don't Make School Safer
Reason
Published on: 8/28/2020
"Increasing the number of police in schools doesn't make school safer and leads to harsher discipline for infractions, according to a new study in the journal Criminology & Public Policy."
Latinx Youth Undercounted, Ignored in Juvenile Justice System: Report
The Crime Report
Published on: 8/27/2020
"Today, Latinx youth make up 25 percent — or 8.3 million — of the U.S. youth population between the ages of 10 to 17. In an incarceration setting, over 48,000 youth are detained in juvenile or adult criminal justice facilities on any given day. But, of those that are incarcerated, the racial and ethnic makeup of that youth is largely unknown due to the fact that law enforcement and jail ethnicity data isn’t being collected, and even if it is, it’s incredibly inconsistent 'despite federal law mandating a uniform approach,' the researchers found, calling the missing data 'alarming.'"
Can Prosecutors Be Taught to Avoid Jail Sentences?
New York Times
Published on: 8/26/2020
"At least 60 district attorneys have come to see incarceration as destructive, racist, expensive and ineffective. But can they persuade their own staffs?"
Crack, Mass Incarceration and Black Trauma: Jeffrey’s Story
Filter Magazine
Published on: 8/25/2020
"If he just pled guilty, they said, he could go home. Sure, he’d have a five-year suspended sentence and a felony record, but those things were abstractions to the teenager. 'I just heard, "You can go home," so I signed.' On a physiological level, adolescents placed in this position struggle to weigh short-term benefits versus long-term consequences. Yet in the United States, district attorneys routinely impose these impossible decisions on teenagers."
Ending the ‘Virus’ of Bigotry in Youth Justice
The Crime Report
Published on: 8/24/2020
"A new report from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, for example, shows that overall, youth incarceration has decreased by almost 60 percent between 1997 and 2017. Those gains have been primarily to the benefit of white children."
Millennial Futures Are Bleak. Incarceration Is to Blame.
The Atlantic
Published on: 8/21/2020
"From cradle through childhood to parenthood and near middle age, Millennial lives have been shaped and stymied by policing and prisons."
Prosecutors Condemn ‘Myopic’ Approach to Punishment
The Crime Report
Published on: 8/20/2020
“Are so-called ‘progressive’ approaches by prosecutors to crime and punishment going mainstream? Interviews with 22 state and district attorneys, many of them from smaller jurisdictions, suggest a growing willingness to look for alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion to treatment programs.”
Scales of justice can be tipped by spending on prosecutions, public defenders
San Diego Union Tribune
Published on: 8/19/2020
"Questions about the fundamental fairness of the criminal justice system have resurfaced in the aftermath of the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and the nationwide protests that ensued. Top among them is whether poor defendants are woefully over-matched when it comes to their legal defense."
Racism is a mental health issue, especially for children
Suburban Chicago Herald
Published on: 8/18/2020
“The primary impact, of course, is the negative effect on the disadvantaged, minority children who are the victims of racism. Racist acts against children and observed by children are profoundly detrimental to their health, including their mental health. Today's focus on the victims of racism is appropriate and long overdue. Less frequently discussed is racism's negative impact on the mental health of some advantaged children -- white children. Raising a less-racist, mentally healthier child is just as important as raising one who doesn't touch a hot stove or walk into traffic. Both the child and our society will benefit.”
The post-pandemic juvenile justice system could be more equitable. Will we choose that?
The Hill
Published on: 8/17/2020
As a result of the pandemic, admissions to youth detention centers have dropped for youth of all races and ethnicities – without a corresponding increase in serious new offending by youth who otherwise would have been confined. Can these lessons create a new path forward? “Most of the time, young people need opportunity, support and a chance to repair the harm they have caused. Few need a courtroom or probation officer and far fewer should ever see the inside of a cell. The question is whether we will seize this moment — heeding research, following innovative examples from before and during the pandemic, and making the right choices in youth justice.”
Virus-Driven Push to Release Juvenile Detainees Leaves Black Youth Behind
New York Times
Published on: 8/14/2020
Nationally, “after an initial decrease in the youth detention population since the pandemic began, the rate of release has slowed, and the gap between white youth and Black youth has grown.” In Illinois, detention has slowed, but our racial disparities remain high. To see how Illinois and your county are doing, take a look at the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission's annual and monthly detention reports.
‘Restorative' courts are expanding in Chicago — and that’s a good thing
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 8/13/2020
"The two Restorative Justice Community Courts are set to open Sept. 14 in the Englewood and Avondale neighborhoods. The courts will aim to settle nonviolent felony and misdemeanor cases involving young people through talks and sit-downs between victims and defendants, even members of the community. The first restorative justice court in Chicago has been operating in North Lawndale since 2017. The courts are based on a pioneering model in Brooklyn that’s been credited with lowering recidivism among both juveniles and young adults."
Proposed New York Legislation Would End Juvenile Delinquency For Kids 7 to 11
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
Published on: 8/12/2020
“New York state lawmakers and justice reform advocates are trying to end formal prosecution for all children under the age of 12, in a measure that would steer them toward county-based social services.” (Illinois, like New York and 31 other states, currently has no minimum age limit for filing delinquency charges against children. Illinois’ minimum age for trying children in adult court is 13.)
Is It Time To Change How We Prosecute Young Adults?
Law 360
Published on: 8/11/2020
“In some ways, how the new neuroscientific research is being used to push for change in the judicial system has split into a battle on two fronts: litigation efforts to expand juvenile precedent to include young adults, and new legislation and programs aimed at steering young adults out of adult prisons.”
Dozens of Prosecutors and Corrections Officials Say Close All Youth Prisons
The Chronicle of Social Change
Published on: 8/10/2020
“In a sign of the nation’s rapid rethinking of the justice system prompted by protests against racism and police brutality, dozens of elected prosecutors, corrections officials and probation chiefs have called for all youth prisons to be shut down. They described the lockups as ‘ineffective, inefficient and inhumane.’"
Sticker Shock 2020: The Cost of Youth Incarceration
Justice Policy Institute
Published on: 8/7/2020
The average state cost for the secure confinement of a young person is now $588 per day, or $214,620 per year, a 44 percent increase from 2014. These cost figures over a six-year period represent the growing economic impact of incarcerating youth. However, the long-term impact of these policies extends well beyond the fiscal cost.
Community Convenings: Reimagining Investments in Illinois' Youth
Northwestern Pritzker's Children and Family Justice Center
Published on: 8/5/2020
The CFJC went to the nine counties that send the most youth to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and held 33 community convenings attended by 388 participants. This report compiles the voices and wisdom of the young people who have been locked up in Illinois youth prisons, parents of those youth, other youth and families impacted by the juvenile legal system and staff from community organizations serving youth and their families.
Pritzker, Stratton launches community-based approach to transform juvenile justice statewide
CIProud
Published on: 7/31/2020
“They’re calling it the ‘21st Century Illinois Transformation Model’, which is a three-phase plan designed to reduce the harm of incarceration. The plan would transition youth to small, regional residential centers, invest in community wraparound support and intervention services for justice-involved youth, and increase financial support for victim services in communities that are disproportionately impacted by violence.”
Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation
John Lewis
Published on: 7/30/2020
In this essay, penned shortly before his death and published today, on the day of his funeral, John Lewis speaks to us.
Study: Pretrial Juvenile Detention Increases Odds of Felony Recidivism by 33%
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Published on: 7/29/2020
“Jurisdictions use pretrial confinement to ensure that young people who have been accused of an offense attend court hearings. Yet, a stay in pretrial juvenile detention increases a young person's likelihood of felony recidivism by 33% and misdemeanor recidivism by 11%, according to a new peer-reviewed study published in Crime and Delinquency. The researchers found that any pretrial detention stay — regardless of its length — increases the likelihood of recidivism.”
Lessons from Rayshard Brooks: Reform of parole and probation is just as important as police reform
New York Daily News
Published on: 7/27/2020
"Just a few months ago, Rayshard Brooks spoke to a public benefit company that helps people reenter the workforce after being incarcerated. His words tell us as much about criminal justice reform as any research or protest speech.

Brooks recounts how little help he received from community supervision and how threatening it was to be under constant surveillance, facing possible incarceration for the slightest infraction. These violations — like consuming alcohol or missing appointments — would never lead to incarceration for the general public, because they are not crimes.”
Police chiefs and NAACP agree on a way to improve policing
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 7/20/2020
The Illinois NAACP State Conference and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police are renewing attention on their 2018 Ten Shared Principles. "The agreement calls for valuing every life, treating everyone with respect, rejecting discrimination, and supporting community policing, diversity and de-escalation training." Some supporters warn that enforcement measures are necessary to make it work, and others have called for stronger measures.
Michigan Teen on Probation Incarcerated After Not Doing Online Schoolwork
Pro Publica
Published on: 7/18/2020
"Attorneys for a 15-year-old sent to juvenile detention for not doing her schoolwork argued the teenager is not a threat to the community, contrary to a judge’s ruling. Now Michigan’s Supreme Court is stepping in." (Illinois, like Michigan, allows judges to incarcerate youth for non-criminal probation violations.)
Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission Issues Call to Action for Racial Equity in Juvenile Justice
Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission
Published on: 7/17/2020
As a federally mandated State Advisory Group leading a statewide movement to a fairer, more effective, collaborative juvenile justice system, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission recommends Illinois takes the following six steps now to start reducing the harms of juvenile justice system involvement, which are borne disproportionately by youth of color:
1) Eliminating detention for children 10 – 12 years old
2) Requiring use of alternatives to arresting and detaining children and youth in crisis
3) Restricting secure detention to situations in which community safety is at risk
4) Limiting the role of policing in schools
5) Eliminating the trial, sentencing, and punishment of youth as adults
6) Expanding the automatic expungement of juvenile records
A Majority of Voters Support An End To Extreme Sentences For Children
Data for Progress; Justice Collaborative Institute; FJP
Published on: 7/15/2020
New report offers findings from two national polls showing that public thinking and discourse on extreme sentencing of youth has shifted:

1) Over two-thirds of respondents agree that children who receive lengthy sentences should have their sentences reviewed by a judge or parole board after no more than 15 years, with the opportunity for release if they pose no danger to the community. This majority holds across race, age, gender, and education.

2) Over two-thirds of respondents, including over two-thirds of Republicans, believe that all children, including those convicted of crimes, have the capacity for positive change, and that a person who committed a crime as a child should be paroled from prison if a parole board later concludes that the person does not pose a threat to public safety.
Pandemic Is Opportunity to Reshape Family Courts, Probation, Experts Say
Gabe Stern
Published on: 7/14/2020
"Avik Das, director and chief probation officer in Cook County, Illinois’ juvenile justice system, said the youth justice system should be a “last-resort” option for high-risk youth.

“I believe my home court, the oldest juvenile court in the nation, is being called on to reinvent itself,” he said. “Otherwise it is at risk of being declared obsolete at best. Or at worst being downright injurious to the well-being of children and young people, particularly Black youth, families and neighborhoods, and other communities of color.”"
CPS Dodged Reforming Police In Schools For 2 Years - District Vows To Do Better
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 7/9/2020
"For nearly two years, local leaders have had a road map to overhaul how the city uses Chicago police officers in its public schools. But in that time, city officials and police have dragged their feet in fixing widespread problems, inconsistencies and misunderstandings about how the program should work, Inspector General Joe Ferguson said. Thursday’s meeting revisited a September 2018 report from Ferguson that blasted the lack of transparency on how the school resource officer program is managed."
Stateville Voices Presents Plays by Incarcerated Students in Northwestern’s Prison Ed Program
Third Coast Review
Published on: 7/8/2020
Stateville Voices: A Festival of Short Plays by the Northwestern University Prison Education Program and Goodman Theatre premiered July 3rd and are available for viewing at: https://www.goodmantheatre.org. "Stateville Voices invites us to reflect on what freedom and independence mean in a country that incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation on earth."
Hearing set over Rockford police chief’s comments
Rockford Register Star
Published on: 7/7/2020
"Commissioners are evaluating a formal complaint that accuses O’Shea of violating a departmental policy against bias with comments he made during a May 18 news conference. After a series of violent incidents, O’Shea at the news conference said police shouldn’t be 'wasting our time trying to save' 16- and 17-year-olds who 'are running around shooting each other.' O’Shea said that teens who are committing murders and shooting people should be arrested, convicted and sent to prison. The complaint — filed by Winnebago County resident Aija Penix on behalf of a group of residents — argues the comments show bias and discrimination. Penix argues in the complaint that O’Shea is writing off some youth with his comments, and sending a message to police officers that some youth are not worth trying to save."
Ex-Chicago principal who turned around tough high school explains why cops don’t belong in schools
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 7/6/2020
“Liz Dozier significantly improved a violent, under-performing South Side school. Instead of relying on police to enforce discipline, they instituted restorative justice practices, which focus on repairing harm rather than applying punishment, and held peace circles to defuse conflicts. They provided grief counseling and anger-management training to students and created trauma groups to help deal with emotional baggage they brought to school from home. The problem with getting police involved is that it sucks students into a situation from which they might never recover. ‘Once a kid touches the criminal justice system, it just steamrolls,’ Dozier says.”
First feel me, then heal us, Chicago man who knows violence all too well writes
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 7/2/2020
"Charles Woodhouse Jr. witnessed a murder at 11, was shot at 15, imprisoned at 17. Now 25 and under house arrest, the South Side native has a strong take on what it will take to curb violence."
Lawsuit alleges Chicago police routinely deny arrestees the ability to call, meet with attorneys
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 6/30/2020
"Even before the protests and unrest, the public defender’s office was polling its clients about when and whether they had been given access to a phone call. Out of 1,468 defendants surveyed between mid-April and early June, 33% said police never offered them access to a phone, according to the lawsuit. Of those who did get a phone call, the average wait time was 4.2 hours after they were taken into custody, the suit states.
And according to an affidavit from Eliza Solowiej, executive director of First Defense Legal Aid, less than 2% of arrestees had a lawyer at any point during their time in Chicago police custody during 2019 — the highest rate since the police began keeping track."
Advocates Blast Chicago Plan To Sweep Up 'Drug Corner' Teens Before July 4
Chip Mitchell
Published on: 6/30/2020
Civil-rights advocates and some criminologists are panning a Chicago plan to arrest teenagers on “drug corners” this week to keep them from inflaming the city’s traditional July 4 gun-violence surge.
When a juvenile justice diversion center does more harm than good, close it
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 6/29/2020
"The purpose of JISC was to keep kids who screw up, but mostly just need help, from getting sucked into the juvenile justice system. It hasn’t worked out that way. The center has worked more like a kiddie cop station than a diversion program, and there’s a possibility it has made matters worse, not better, for some of the 3,000 young people delivered there annually."
Illinois Supreme Court Issues Statement on Racial Justice and Next Steps
Illinois Supreme Court
Published on: 6/26/2020
The Court stated, in part, "The events of recent days and weeks have exposed frailties in our public institutions and brought to the forefront the disproportionate impact the application of certain laws, rules, policies and practices have had on the African American population, the Latinx community, and other people of color in Illinois and nationally.
Racism exists, whether it be actualized as individual racism, institutional racism or structural racism, and it undermines our democracy, the fair and equitable administration of justice, and severely diminishes individual constitutional protections and safeguards of full citizenship with the attendant rights and benefits sacred to all. People of color have no less expectation of fairness, equity and freedom from racial discrimination than others, yet they are continually confronted with racial injustices that the Courts have the ability to nullify and set right."
Cops to stay in Chicago’s public schools after a divided vote
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 6/25/2020
"Despite vocal opposition to having the resource officers in CPS buildings — including from many students, parents and educators — the mayor and schools chief have spoken in favor of maintaining the officers but continuing to give local school councils the choice. Currently, 144 officers are assigned in pairs to 72 schools. There are another 48 mobile school officers and 22 sergeants. The board members who tried to end the contract characterized it as a civil rights issue, citing research on the school-to-prison pipeline and significantly higher rates of police notifications for Black students than for white students."
Post-pandemic, the criminal justice class can choose not to return to business as usual
Washington Post
Published on: 6/24/2020
A public defender asks the criminal justice class – legislators, judges, and lawyers – whether the current times haven’t presented us with an opportunity. To value human flourishing over penal bureaucracies, to reject the myth that confining and degrading people is a just response to perceived transgressions, and to learn what justice means to the people whose rights we purport to uphold. “As we emerge from the pandemic, what if the criminal justice class chooses not to return to business as usual? What if, instead of rushing to ramp up arrests and reschedule thousands of postponed prosecutions, we invite communities affected by incarceration to imagine non-carceral responses to transgression? We would learn that they, like us, know what else to do.”
10 Things We Want White People to Do to Celebrate Juneteenth
Guimel Carvalho and Amy Hogarth
Published on: 6/19/2020
"Each year, Juneteenth is a day for Black people to celebrate freedom. This year Juneteenth carries deeper meaning in the wake of Black lives lost to police brutality in the last few weeks and months." For allies - including the predominately white public defender community - this article is a must-read.
Public defenders hold Black Lives Matter march around courthouse, jail complex
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 6/17/2020
Public defenders marched to show support for their clients and raise awareness about injustices in the system.
Public defender cites backlash from sheriff’s deputies after Black Lives Matter rally
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 6/17/2020
The Cook County public defender is calling for an investigation into a handful of sheriff’s deputies who reportedly made insulting or threatening social media posts after public defenders marched around the jail in support of Black Lives Matter this week.
Lessons From Juvenile Justice Reforms Could Help Reduce Pandemic's Impact on Confined Youth
Dana Shoenberg, The Pew Charitable Trust
Published on: 5/12/2020
“The costs—and risks—of confining youth in residential placements have been elevated by the potential transmission of COVID-19. New budget challenges lie ahead. Fortunately, state leaders can address these challenges and navigate this unsettling time by leaning on a deep research base and large menu of tested policy options that can help them safely reduce the number of youth in facilities and heed physical distancing guidelines intended to promote safer communities.”
Top juvenile court judge still blocking detention motions despite new emergency order
John Seasly, Injustice Watch
Published on: 5/12/2020
“Presiding Judge Michael Toomin is still blocking detention review motions from juvenile defendants, despite an order from Chief Judge Timothy Evans on Friday requiring that all such motions be heard.”
Frustration reigns as attorneys seek release of detained youth before virus spreads
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 5/7/2020
With many Cook County youth being held in pre-trial detention beyond the 30-day limit imposed by statute, an amended court order issued on May 5th stating that “Juvenile detention hearings, including all motions to review detention, and other emergency matters will be conducted daily."
New Report on DOJJ's Covid-19 Response
Published on: 4/22/2020
The Ombudsperson who works on behalf of youth in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice has issued a COVID-19 report on the steps IDOJJ is taking to keep youth safe, reduce the number of youth in custody, and ensure appropriate services for youth on aftercare.
Advocates Demand Illinois Release Youth From Juvenile Detention Centers Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Published on: 4/3/2020
“Advocates and correctional officials are calling on Illinois and other states across the country to release youth from juvenile detention facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Harm Instead of Healing: Imprisoning Youth with Mental Illness
Published on: 3/17/2020
More than nine out of ten youth in Illinois prisons have been diagnosed with at least one mental illness, and two-thirds of the youth in state prisons have three or more diagnosed mental disorders. Few of them are receiving the treatment needed to help them overcome or even cope with these disorders.
How to End Racial Bias in Juvenile Justice Risk-Needs Assessments
Published on: 3/6/2020
A recent Child Trends report found that “risk and needs assessments may misclassify youth of color as being high risk, which may perpetuate racial biases in the justice system.” This doesn’t mean a wholesale abandonment of assessments. “Research shows that risk and needs assessments are more accurate at identifying a youth’s level of risk than the professional judgement of justice officials, such as a judge or probation officer.” It does mean that stakeholders must follow the data, raise their awareness, and combat the effects of implicit bias in diversion, detention, and sentencing.
Vicarious Post-Traumatic Stress — Or Why There’s Such A High Rate Of Burnout Among Criminal Defense
Published on: 3/6/2020
“Being exposed to histories of abuse, neglect, poverty, and violence can affect attorneys. According to studies on burnout (referred to in one study with the unfortunate acronym 'BO'), dealing with trauma-exposed clients causes ‘an accumulation of stress and the erosion of idealism characterized by fatigue, poor sleep, headaches, anxiety, irritability, depression, hopelessness, aggression, cynicism and substance abuse.’
A survey done in the early 2000s by Pace University found that in comparing criminal defense attorneys with mental health providers and social service workers (who also work with traumatized populations), the criminal defense attorneys experienced more symptoms of STS than the others.”
Watchdog: A Chicago Program Meant To Help Juveniles May Instead ‘Retraumatize’ Them
Published on: 3/3/2020
The Chicago JISC (Juvenile Intervention and Support Center) was created as an arrest diversion program that connected youth with needed services. Instead, a recent audit reveals that the 14-year-old program fails to follow best practices when working with justice-involved youth and “may actually re-traumatize youth or increase their likelihood of reoffending.”
Rockford Hopes to Disrupt Juvenile Prison Pipeline
Published on: 2/25/2020
A new initiative in Rockford will connect youth who have been exposed to domestic violence and trauma in the home with social services. "Last year, the Illinois Collaboration on Youth, which promotes children’s health and safety, alerted the city to concerns about the number of Winnebago County young people placed with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, a disproportionate number of whom are black."
The Enduring Trauma of Stop and Frisk
Published on: 2/20/2020
“I want to tell you what it is to be ‘stopped and frisked.’ The first time a police officer did this to me, I was 11 years old. As a Black child in San Francisco, I learned early that mine and others’ bodies meant nothing to those supposedly tasked with our protection.”

If you have two minutes to read anything today, make it Jamal Trulove's unflinching look at the most intimate and lasting effects of the over-policing of communities of color, and imagine the children in your own lives.
How Mandatory Minimums Enable Police Misconduct
Published on: 10/8/2019
In this New York Times opinion piece, Brooklyn public defender and policy director Scott Hechinger explains: “In criminal courts throughout this country, victims of police abuse — illegal stops and frisks, car stops and searches, home raids, manufactured charges and excessive force — routinely forgo their constitutional right to challenge police abuse in a pretrial hearing in exchange for plea deals. They do so because the alternative is to risk the steep mandatory minimum sentence they would face if they went to trial and lost. Prosecutors use the fear of these mandatory minimums to their advantage by offering comparatively less harsh plea deals before pretrial hearings and trials begin."
More than 2,000 Adults Who Were Sent as Kids to Die in Prison were Given a Second Chance
Published on: 10/8/2019
9,008 days – In 2016, more than 2,000 adults who were sent as kids to die in prison were given a second chance. Marshan Allen was one of them.
As juvenile defenders prepare for dozens of resentencing hearings throughout Illinois, this Chicago Reader profile reminds us what is at stake: “Allen bears his personal story openly as both cautionary tale and evidence: though people tend to describe what he accomplished while in prison, and since, as exceptional, he views himself as an example. ‘Not the exception, the example,’ he says. He sees thousands of people behind bars whose personal journeys to reform and remorse go unrecognized, people whose potential for creation rather than destruction goes squandered."
Felony Murder Rule for Youth Must be Changed
Published on: 8/20/2019
Editorial boards join the call for long-overdue amendments to Illinois' sweeping felony murder rule, especially as it applies to youth. The opinion pieces followed the Lake County State's Attorney's decision to charge five teens with felony murder after their 14-year-old companion was fatally shot by a homeowner in the course of an apparent car theft.
Life After Miller
Published on: 8/14/2019
Thanks to our friends at the Children an Family Justice Center, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law Bluhm Legal Clinic, for this reminder of how important Miller-Graham resentencing hearings are for youth, the attorneys who represent them,n and their communities.
D.C. Prosecutors, Once Dubious, Are Becoming Believers In Restorative Justice.
Published on: 7/2/2019
D.C. Prosecutors, Once Dubious, Are Becoming Believers In Restorative Justice. “Achieving justice doesn't always involve punishment or retribution — and young people have the capacity for change.” That’s the principle behind a successful new restorative justice division of the D.C. attorney general’s office.
EDITORIAL: The latest evidence against police in Chicago schools.
Published on: 7/2/2019
EDITORIAL: The latest evidence against police in Chicago schools. “Chicago Public Schools need more strategies that don’t rely on handcuffs, Tasers and arrests to manage student misbehavior.”
School-to-Prison Pipeline Must End, Foxx Says
Published on: 7/2/2019
School-to-prison pipeline must end, Foxx says after convening meeting with law enforcement, educators. Chicago stakeholders are exploring more effective alternatives to arresting youth for minor infractions at school.
Why Juvenile Defense Matters
Published on: 4/30/2019
Effective juvenile defense saves communities money, increases public safety, and leads youth to success.
IL Supreme Court Holds that Sentencing Youth to 40+ Years is De Facto Life
Published on: 4/22/2019
The Illinois Supreme Court holds that sentencing youth to prison for longer than 40 years is the equivalent of a life sentence. Read the Court’s full opinion in People v. Buffer.
Chicago Police Dept. Broken Gang Database Needs Reform
Published on: 4/22/2019
The Chicago Office of the Inspector General’s report on the Chicago Police Department’s gang database paints a troubling picture. Thousands of uncorrected inaccuracies. No recourse for those wrongfully placed on the list. And officers who list “turd,” “black,” and “scumbag” as “occupation” on arrest cards. “A system that results in comparatively standardless, inaccurate, and unaccountable stigmatization of residents without due process protections can only further fray the very relationships needed to achieve positive, constitutional, and effective community policing,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “CPD, the City Council, and the Mayor’s Office have to undertake holistic and comprehensive actions to enhance violence reduction efforts, and they have to include community voices in ongoing reforms.” The Cook County Board recently voted to permanently dismantle its own gang database.
Parole Hearings for Under 21
Published on: 4/5/2019
Thanks to the hard work of advocates, bipartisan support, and the Governor’s signature, young people under the age of 21 serving long prison sentences will be eligible for parole in as early as 10 years. The new legislation, Public Act 110-1182, currently applies to those sentenced on or after June 1, 2019.
RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice's New Edition of Its Probation System Review Guide
Published on: 3/5/2019
RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice announces the online availability of the newest edition of its Probation System Review Guidebook, 3rd Edition. The new Guidebook is an important tool for local Juvenile Justice Councils and defenders sitting on those Councils who want to improve outcomes for youth and communities. This resource features the seminal framework that the RFK National Resource Center has used in partnership with twenty-five jurisdictions across nearly one-third of the states and territories to achieve substantial improvements in youth outcomes and system performance. This latest edition includes: an increased focus on the translation of adolescent development into practice; renewed emphasis on resiliency and positive youth development; improved and updated tools and guidance related to risk-needs-responsivity instruments; specific benefits to undertaking a system review; updated jurisdictional examples; lessons learned; testimonials; and many more useful fea
Cook County Dismantles Their Gang Database
Published on: 2/22/2019
The Cook County Board has voted to permanently dismantle the county's gang database.
Advocates have long maintained that the database was over-inclusive and plagued by errors, and unfairly affected youth of color. The Chicago and State Police continue to maintain similar databases.
Michigan Attorney General Argues Sex Offender Registration is Punishment
Published on: 2/11/2019
The Michigan Attorney General has filed an amicus brief in the Michigan Supreme Court arguing that sex offender registration is punishment and that registries should be based on individualized risk assessments. The AG's stated interest in filing the brief: "The Attorney General is charged with defending not only state laws but also the state constitution."
Incarcerated Children's Advocacy Network: Stories of Redemption
Published on: 1/25/2019
Three years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Montgomery v. Louisiana, which extended the protections of Miller v. Alabama to all youth sentenced to life-without-parole. Take a moment to view these stories of redemption provided by the Incarcerated Children's Advocacy Network.
IL Justice Needs Age-Appropriate Approach
Published on: 1/24/2019
Young people ages 18 to 25 are not children anymore, but many are not quite grown up either. When it comes to African-Americans in this population, Illinois has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S. New research examines how the state can better help these emerging adults in the criminal justice system.
Cook County Public Guardian Sues DCFS for Treatment of Mentally Ill Youth
Published on: 12/18/2018
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) today was hit with a federal class action lawsuit for locking youth in psychiatric hospitals long past the time that their treatment required them to be confined. Upon being medically cleared for discharge, instead of going to an appropriate facility, the Defendants forced the children to remain in locked psychiatric wards, causing immense harm.
People vs. Aikens Goes to the IL Supreme Court
Published on: 12/18/2018
The Illinois Supreme Court has taken the State's appeal in People v. Aikens, 2016 IL App (1st) 133578. In Aikens, the appellate court held that a mandatory minimum sentence of 40 years (20 years for attempt murder of a peace officer plus 20 years for personal discharge of a firearm) was unconstitutional as applied to a 17-year-old youth, because it shocked the conscience and evolving standards of decency under the Illinois Constitution's proportionate penalties clause.
Why IL Won't Ban the Box
Published on: 12/17/2018
Next year, the Common Application used by hundreds of colleges and universities will stop asking potential students about their criminal histories. Despite legislative efforts in Illinois, most campuses in the state continue to ask the question.
IYC Harrisburg Report: Progress & Concerns Regarding Treatment of Youth Within Facility
Published on: 12/12/2018
The John Howard Association has released its report on IYC Harrisburg, outlining both progress and serious concerns regarding the treatment of youth in the facility.
IL Prison Doctors Dispense Anti-Psychotic Medication to Youth for Common Behavioral Problems
Published on: 12/12/2018
Illinois Prison Doctors Dispense Anti-Psychotic Medication to Youth for Common Behavioral Problems.
IL Supreme to Appoint to New Committee on Juvenile Courts
Published on: 11/15/2018
The Committee is tasked with reviewing and making recommendations on matters affecting juvenile law and juvenile courts, including child protection and delinquency systems. The Committee will review, analyze and examine the impact of legislation and case law as it relates to juvenile law and procedures and any aspect of the juvenile court process.
How Long of a Sentence is too Long for Young Offenders?
Published on: 11/14/2018
The Champaign News-Gazette has published an editorial on the Illinois Supreme Court’s procedural rejection of the as-applied challenge to a de facto life sentence for 18-year-old Darien Harris in People v. Harris, 2018 IL 121932
Chicago Ban on Detaining Minors Under 13 Headed for Appeal
Published on: 11/13/2018
The Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance in September prohibiting the placement of children under the age of 13 in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. In October, Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Toomin, declined to follow the ordinance, finding that the Illinois Juvenile Court Act’s minimum age of detention – 10 years old – controls. The court stated that “none of the 15 Juvenile Court judges ‘subscribe to the notion that detention is an appropriate placement for young minors,’ ” but noted a lack of adequate placement alternatives for the youngest of children.
Life without Parole for Children Ruled Unconstitutional
Published on: 11/2/2018
The landmark decision makes Washington the 21st state (plus DC) to ban the sentence, meaning a majority of states now ban or do not use it

October 18, 2018, Washington, DC –– Today, the Washington State Supreme Court handed down a decision in State of Washington v. Brian Bassett, in which it ruled that sentencing children to life without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional, thereby banning this inhumane sentence in that state. (Read an amicus brief filed by the Juvenile Law Center with input from the CFSY here).

Washington is now the 21st state, plus the District of Columbia, to ban sentencing children to life without parole — in 2012, only five states banned the practice. For the first time in history, a majority of states ban or do not use life without parole for children. Included in that majority are “blue” and “red” states alike, such as Arkansas, Utah, Nevada, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and California. The United States Supreme Court has also ste