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The Slow Undoing of the Sixth Amendment
The Penn Capital Star
Published on: 1/24/2022
“Several years ago, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said plea bargaining determines ‘who goes to jail and for how long. It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system. It is the criminal justice system.’

That is in spite of what President John Adams declared more than two centuries ago, ‘[r]epresentative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty. Without them we have no other fortification against being ridden like horses, fleeced like sheep, worked like cattle, and fed and clothed like swine and hounds.’”

(Youth in Illinois don’t have the right to jury trial unless they face adult sentencing, and as in criminal court, the vast majority of cases are resolved through plea bargains.)
New Jersey Supreme Court Provides Greater Protections for Youth than Jones v. Mississippi
New Jersey Courts
Published on: 1/21/2022
In keeping with the developmental principles that governed Miller v. Alabama, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that youth must be allowed to petition for parole after 20 years under its state constitution.
Chicago Courthouses and Jails again Buffeted as Latest COVID Wave Sweeps City
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 1/20/2022
“State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said last year that the office might have to drop cases en masse to clear out the backlog. That wave of dismissals never materialized, according to the office’s data.

In fact, prosecutors dropped fewer cases in 2021 than they did in 2019. Of all the felony cases that concluded last year, about 33 percent ended in a dismissal, compared to 39 percent in 2019. Last year’s share of dismissals is closer to 2018, when 30 percent of resolved cases ended in dropped charges.

And an anticipated flood of trial demands once the speedy-trial clock started ticking again did not materialize either, according to a statement from the prosecutors’ office.”
MO Supreme Court: Requiring Youth to Attend Delinquency Trial Via Video Violates Constitution
Missouri Courts
Published on: 1/19/2022
“Requiring a youth to attend a critical stage of delinquency proceeding via two-way video violated his due process right to be physically present, regardless of transportation policies the detention center had in place.

Neither the United States Constitution nor the Missouri Constitution are entitled to take ‘sick days.’"
Cook County Judge Cites DCFS Director for Contempt
Capitol News
Published on: 1/18/2022
“DCFS has placed 356 children statewide in inappropriate settings for an average of 55 days, Golbert said. There were so many children that Murphy, the presiding judge over the child protection division, noted that created a separate ‘beyond medical necessity’ docket.

Golbert noted that DCFS has closed 460 residential beds since 2015 with the goal of replacing those residential placements with foster homes with specialized services for children. But those homes never materialized. DCFS opened fewer than 30 therapeutic homes since the closures and never reopened the residential placements.”

(For similar reasons, children pulled into the delinquency system are languishing in detention centers based on the lack of available placements.)
Lagging Police Participation May Derail Use-Of-Force Data Effort
St Louis Today
Published on: 1/14/2022
“A national program to track police shootings is at risk of shutting down without publishing any data after years of insufficient participation by law enforcement agencies in Missouri, Illinois and around the nation, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

In Illinois, 148 out of 983 agencies are contributing incident reports, representing at least 21% of officers.”
For Poor Defendants, Minor Crimes Can Lead To Devastating Debts
Washington Post
Published on: 1/13/2022
“America has long had the highest rates of poverty among the wealthy industrialized countries. Not only do we lead in poverty, but our conditions of impoverishment are incredibly damaging. Rather than providing support to the poor, U.S. social policies appear designed to punish and stigmatize them. Nowhere is this more clear than in Tony Messenger’s book, 'Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice.'”

The effect of fees on youth and their families is equally as harmful.
With Cash Bond Ending In 2022, A New Program Will Use Social Services To Keep Communities Safe
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 1/12/2022
“Community Release with Support is being launched as a partnership between the Lawndale Christian Legal Center and the Bail Project, a national nonprofit that pays bail for people who can’t afford it. The pilot aims to tackle the root causes of why people end up committing crimes, and it will offer resources, including drug addiction treatment, housing programs, job readiness, mental health services and violence prevention programs.”
The Lesson of Meek Mill’s ‘Trauma’
Published on: 1/11/2022
“Music icon Meek Mill’s best-selling 2018 rap song, “Trauma,” is a starting point for examining the traumatic experiences of Black youth involved with the justice system, writes the author of a forthcoming book.

A close examination of the song’s lyrics should help enlarge the definition of what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) — childhood exposure to traumatic events like a shooting, a parent sent to jail, sexual abuse― that develop into adult trauma and often lead to trouble with the law.”
How Decriminalization Impacts Racial Disparities in Cannabis Arrests
Filter Magazine
Published on: 1/10/2022
“Cannabis decriminalization has modestly reduced the disproportionate possession arrests of Black adults compared to white, according to new research. But while decriminalization has brought down possession arrests overall, it does not seem to have improved the racial disparity for Black youth—only Black people over 18.”
Prosecutor: Stop Blaming Crime Increase on Bail Reform
The Crime Report
Published on: 1/7/2022
“Good prosecutorial policies are based on facts, not fear.

While [bail reform] is certainly a departure from the status quo, it is actually a return to what the law says we should be doing in the first place: using pretrial detention as a ‘carefully limited exception’ only in cases where necessary to protect the community and ensure the accused appears in court.”
Law Curbing Police Access to Home Data Tests Privacy Boundaries
Bloomberg Law
Published on: 1/6/2022
“A first-of-its-kind law in Illinois limiting law enforcement access to data from household digital devices sits at the forefront of an emerging legal debate over protecting the privacy of such records.

The state’s law, which takes effect Jan. 1, comes as law enforcement seeks to tap into consumers’ growing collection of internet-connected devices, from smart speakers to security cameras. These devices can capture conversations, movements, and other information that could be used for investigating crimes.

Known as the Protecting Household Privacy Act, the law restricts the sharing of device data by requiring a search warrant or permission from the device’s owner, with some exceptions in emergency scenarios.”
A Black Teenager Stopped After a Shooting Spent the Night in Jail. He Was Never a Suspect.
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 1/5/2022
“‘I’m a Black teenager in Kankakee,’ Gee told the Tribune shortly after his arrest. ‘You just expect stuff like this to happen to you. There’s no sense getting mad about it because it won’t make a difference.’”
New Video from the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Published on: 1/4/2022
The CFSY has released a short video reminding us that despite the hurdles we face, we still have much to celebrate. By the end of 2021, over 800 individuals sentenced to life as children have been released from prison. Hundreds more sentenced to de facto life are now home. And thirty one states have either banned juvenile life without parole or have no one serving it. Illinois is not one of them. The work continues.
JHA Releases Its Latest Monitoring Report on IYC Harrisburg
John Howard Association
Published on: 1/3/2022
This latest report by the John Howard Association includes conditions of confinement, demographics, education, programming, COVID responses, and recommendations for improvement.
Why Are More Black Kids Suicidal? A Search for Answers.
New York Times
Published on: 12/30/2021
“Mental health experts assumed that people of all races had the same risk factors for self-harm. Emerging evidence suggests that is not the case.”
Cook County’s Top Judge Reverses Position and Issues a Vaccine Mandate for Employees
Published on: 12/29/2021
A member of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center advisory board, Amanda Klonsky, said the announcement was “‘good news.’ But she said the policy should have been instituted long before Tuesday.

‘The current surge of omicron cases in the detention center and in the juvenile court was entirely anticipated,’ Klonsky said. ‘We knew there was going to be a winter surge, and the court absolutely should have gotten ahead of it by implementing this vaccine mandate weeks ago.’”
Mostly White Juries Prompt States To Take Action To Eliminate Racial Discrimination
Washington Post
Published on: 12/28/2021
“Nearly four decades after the Supreme Court established a precedent meant to eliminate racial discrimination in jury selection, the problem remains widespread, research shows. Most often the practice occurs through a legal tactic called a peremptory challenge, which allows an attorney to strike a potential juror without having to state a reason.

But critics say lawyers have found ways to get around the Supreme Court’s prohibition against discrimination in jury selection by asking potential Black jurors such questions as, ‘Have you ever had a bad encounter with the police?’”
Champaign’s Way Out of Gun Violence Starts with $3.2 Million in Pandemic Relief
Illinois Newsroom
Published on: 12/27/2021
“The city’s new Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint infuses $3.2 million in the first year into existing efforts from the housing authority, school district, reentry groups and more.

It also aims to fill gaps in Champaign services compared to other cities. For example, the city would hire two street outreach workers, who would mentor and mediate conflicts between people at risk of becoming shooters or shooting victims.”
Michigan Shooting Suspect Is Among Thousands Of U.S. Minors Charged As Adults Yearly
Published on: 12/23/2021
“For nearly three decades, juvenile crime and the number of juveniles actually prosecuted has sharply declined. But the deadly school shooting in Michigan brings into sharp focus some deep controversy surrounding juvenile justice: whether young people accused of crimes should be charged as a adults.”
To Prevent Wrongful Convictions, Invest In Public Defense Solutions
The Hill
Published on: 12/22/2021
“Investing in public defense will undeniably help reduce wrongful convictions. But it is also a scalable solution with public-safety benefits far beyond the bounds of the horror of wrongful conviction.

Every dollar spent on public defense ensures that the people most in need of complex, robust support – whether because they have truly caused harm in the community or because they are being unconscionably harmed by our machinery of punishment – receive the tailored solutions they need to keep their present and future intact.”
‘What Else Can I Do?’: Problems In Expungement Court
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 12/21/2021
“It was an unremarkable day in expungement court until a man with tears in his eyes spoke up. ‘This is my fourth time trying to do this,’ he said.

He is not alone. Expungement court at Chicago’s main criminal courthouse has struggled to bounce back after COVID-19 shutdowns, attorneys who work the cases told the Tribune, and for months some cases have been plagued with mystifying procedural and logistical problems.”
For Kids in Crisis in Illinois, There Is Nowhere to Turn for Help
Published on: 12/20/2021
“The state didn’t supply numbers of families waiting to getting into treatment facilities, but parents, school district officials and experts say there isn’t a single residential facility available that will admit children with the most extreme needs. With many pediatric psychiatric units also full, some children are waiting in hospital emergency rooms for weeks at a time. Others are languishing in juvenile detention centers.”
It’s Never Too Late to Go to College and Rewrite Your Story
New York Times
Published on: 12/17/2021
“Devon Simmons served 15 years in prison for crimes he committed as a teenager. Since then, he’s been on a mission to remake not just his own life, but the legal system itself.”
A New Evidence Management Tool Aims to Help Public Defenders Process Video and Audio
ABA Journal
Published on: 12/16/2021
Inspired by Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, two technologists have developed a “platform known as JusticeText, an AI-powered evidence management tool primarily geared toward public defenders.

JusticeText reviews audio and video files and generates a searchable transcript of the data. It does so by employing a speech-to-text machine learning algorithm that’s based off existing algorithms but has been improved through using the platform’s data.”
How One Chicago Public School Is Changing Its Culture Now that the Police Are Gone
Published on: 12/15/2021
“After students returned this fall to in-person instruction at Curie Metro High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side, some of them noticed a big change in the school’s culture. The adults are more willing to hear them out when there is conflict, they say. And there’s more support available for students who are struggling. ‘[The school environment] is better,’ senior Turrant Johnson said during a visit to the school last week. ‘It’s more civilized and more controlled.’”
A Whiff of Pot Alone No Longer Airtight Probable Cause for Police to Search Cars in Several States
Washington Post
Published on: 12/14/2021
“For decades, police officers have used motor vehicle stops and searches, which relied on officers saying they could smell marijuana, as part of their drug interdiction efforts. Because marijuana was illegal, the smell of it gave officers the probable cause they needed to justify the search. But now that marijuana is legal in 16 states and Washington, D.C., and medical marijuana is legal in 36 states plus D.C., the odor of marijuana no longer provides ironclad probable cause, because smoking it in those states is not necessarily criminal.”

An Illinois trial judge recently ruled that that the mere odor of marijuana doesn’t provide probable cause for a search.
A Criminal Justice Reformer’s Case for Looser Gun Laws
Published on: 12/13/2021
“There’s this case in front of the Supreme Court that haunts me a little bit: New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen. It’s about whether it is too hard to get an unrestricted gun license in New York state. The plaintiffs say they should be able to carry their firearms wherever they want, not just to work or the gun range, and it seems like the court is inclined to agree with them, paving the way to looser gun laws. It makes me uneasy, because gun sales have spiked since the pandemic, and Kyle Rittenhouse was just found not guilty after shooting three people in the middle of a public street. But Sharone Mitchell Jr., a public defender in Chicago, sees it differently.”
Illinois Supreme Court Lifts Stay on Redistricting of Appellate Courts
Illinois Courts
Published on: 12/10/2021
Beginning January 1, 2022, notices of appeal and other related petitions must be filed in the appellate court district designated by Public Act 102-0011, regardless of the date of the judgment being appealed. In the case of conflicting case law among appellate districts, trial courts are bound by the law of the district in effect when the trial court action was initiated. The order also addresses law-of-the-case issues when there is a prior appellate decision in a particular case.
I Was Sentenced to 30 Years to Life at 16. I Shouldn’t Have Been Sent Into the Adult System.
Washington Post
Published on: 12/9/2021
“We are so much more than our crimes. And the best way to make it possible for such youths to change their trajectory is to keep them out of an adult system that too often corrupts rather than rehabilitates.”
Rittenhouse's Defense Renews Focus On The Case Of A 17-Year-Old Who Killed Her Abuser
Published on: 12/8/2021
“In the aftermath of Kyle Rittenhouse's acquittal in Kenosha, Wis., advocates are turning back to the case of Chrystul Kizer, who is also arguing it was self-defense when she killed her adult sexual abuser, set his house on fire and stole his car in 2018.

Kizer, who was 17 at the time, is accused of shooting Randall P. Volar III in the head; Volar had previously been arrested on child sexual assault charges. Kizer was released from jail in June 2020 after groups such as the Chicago Community Bond Fund raised money to pay her $400,000 bond. She is still awaiting trial.”
“Unprecedented” Surge In Bullying, Harassment And Discrimination Against LGBTQ Students
Capitol Fax
Published on: 12/7/2021
“The group of LGBTQ advocacy groups around the state that reported the rise in harassment toward LGBTQ students said the climate is difficult for LGBTQ students this fall. They say harassment is coming from staff or fellow students. It’s also happening at the local level at school board meetings like in Downers Grove.”
The Perils of Probation: How Supervision Contributes to Jail Populations
The Vera Institute of Justice
Published on: 12/6/2021
“Probation has been viewed traditionally as an alternative and solution to the problem of mass incarceration. However, as the number of people on probation has grown massively and probation supervision has become more punitive over the past few decades, recent reports have focused on how probation is actually contributing to mass incarceration.

This report explores how probation drives jail populations in racially disparate ways—through stringent and difficult to meet probation conditions that can result in revocation and through the detention of people awaiting violation hearings.”

Similar flawed practices plague some juvenile probation systems.
Prosecuting Low-Level Crimes Makes Us Less Safe
The Washington Post
Published on: 12/3/2021
“It’s an important debate, partly because misdemeanors account for 80 percent of all prosecutions nationally.” A new study that “looked at the effects of prosecuting nonviolent misdemeanors on defendants’ future criminal legal involvement. Across the board, we find that being more lenient on the defendants — that is, erring toward non-prosecution — has big benefits. People who are not prosecuted for misdemeanors are much less likely to find themselves in a courtroom again within two years. Entanglement with the legal system itself seems to be a risk factor for future criminal prosecution."

The effects of non-prosecution are greatest for first-time defendants.
JISC to be Replaced
Published on: 12/2/2021
“Nearly two years after Chicago’s watchdog warned that the city’s efforts to keep teens who commit minor crimes out of jail was badly broken, city officials are poised to replace that system with a brand-new program, funded with $10 million included in the city’s 2022 budget.

The new effort will be ‘trauma-informed and services-oriented,’ according to a statement from the mayor’s office. Organizations will be invited to submit proposals to run the effort early next year, officials said. At the same time, officials with the Chicago Police Department are developing a new policy governing the way officers interact with children and teens, officials said.”
When Denver Lost Its Mind Over Youth Crime
The New Republic
Published on: 12/1/2021
“The power of the narrative propelled the politics. ‘We didn’t read statistics,’ said Governor Romer, musing to a Denver Post reporter in 1998. ‘We read every event, and they were dramatic. It was a dramatic summer.’"

Over two decades later, what lessons must we learned from a public panic that led to the dismantling of a youth justice system?
Study: Police Exposure ‘Detrimental’ to Black Youths’ Health
Th Crime Report
Published on: 11/30/2021
“The research, conducted by Dr. Monique Jindal, an assistant professor of clinical medicine from the University of Illinois Chicago, uncovered that police exposure up to the age of 26 was significantly associated with multiple negative health outcomes for Black youth — including adverse mental health, substance use, risky behaviors, and impaired safety.”
Researcher: Adding metal detectors to Champaign-Urbana Schools Won’t Help
Illinois Newsroom
Published on: 11/29/2021
“School districts in Champaign and Urbana are considering installing metal detectors in response to a rise in youth violence. But a social science researcher says metal detectors are not as effective as more long-term violence prevention.

One of the most effective ways schools can combat youth violence is by changing how students treat one another, says Hong. ‘One intervention that shows promise is social-emotional learning. Students learn proper behavior, how to handle conflict, etc. It’s not very costly, and it’s shown to decrease students’ pro-violent attitudes,’ Hong says.”
No Bars, No Chains, No Locks: How Finland Is Reimagining Incarceration
Published on: 11/24/2021
“A third of Finnish prisons operate as ‘open,’ allowing inmates to leave the facility for work or school. WBEZ’s Natalie Moore spent two weeks overseas to learn more.”
Do Face Coverings Help or Hinder Clients in Court?
ABA Journal
Published on: 11/23/2021
“A 2009 study in the Northern American Journal of Psychology suggests facial expressions impact jurors as they are deciding a verdict. The study’s authors showed mock jurors images of defendants showing remorse and anger. It found that if jurors perceived a defendant showing remorse, it resulted in a more lenient verdict than if the defendant looked angry.

More recently, a September paper in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition looked at hundreds of studies on deception and mask-wearing and suggested that depriving jurors of a defendant’s facial cues would not have an impact.

‘The face is not a reliable source of information; therefore, depriving observers of parts of the face ought not to hamper them when detecting deceit. It may actually benefit them if it means that they will focus on speech content instead,’ the paper states.”
School Surveillance of Students Via Laptops May Do More Harm Than Good
Published on: 11/22/2021
“This student surveillance is taking place – at taxpayer expense – in cities and school communities throughout the United States. Privacy advocates fear these tools may harm students by criminalizing mental health problems and deterring free expression.

As a researcher who studies privacy and security issues in various settings, I know that intrusive surveillance techniques cause emotional and psychological harm to students, disproportionately penalize minority students and weaken online security.”
View from the Trauma Center: Why Gun Violence Persists
The Crime Report
Published on: 11/19/2021
“‘Everybody that I know got a family member dead or locked up,’ says Slim, one of the young Black men featured in Life After the Gunshot, a digital storytelling project coproduced by Joseph Richardson, a professor of African-American Studies and Anthropology at the University of Maryland.

A multimedia experiment, Life After the Gunshot gives voice to those who have experienced gun violence firsthand. It tells harrowing stories of pain, suffering and, sometimes, redemption.”
Data Snapshots Reveal COVID-19 Impact in Juvenile Justice Facilities
Performance-based Standards Learning Institute
Published on: 11/18/2021
“The Performance-based Standards (PbS) Learning Institute has released two new Data Snapshots summarizing the impact of COVID-19 in juvenile justice facilities.

The snapshots highlight information collected in April 2021 about how COVID-19 visitation protocols affected family engagement, and how the decreased use of restraints in facilities improved the youth's relationships with the staff.”
Henry Montgomery Paroled – His Case Was Key to Abolishing Mandatory Life for Children
USA Today
Published on: 11/17/2021
“A Louisiana parole board granted parole on Wednesday to Henry Montgomery, whose Supreme Court case was instrumental in extending the possibility of freedom to hundreds of people sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity for parole when they were juveniles.”
New Report on Court-Involved Children with Mental Health Challenges
National Juvenile Justice Network
Published on: 11/16/2021
The National Juvenile Justice Network has just released its 2021 Policy Platform: Keep Children with Mental Health Challenges out of the Youth Legal System. “Each year, hundreds of thousands of children are arrested in the United States and thousands are locked up. An estimated two-thirds of youth in detention or correctional facilities have at least one diagnosable mental health issue.” This new report provides an overview of the problem and recommendations for improvement.
Task Force Calls for Changes in Juvenile Detention Policies for Children Ages 10-12
University of IL News Bureau
Published on: 11/12/2021
“In a report issued in February, the task force pointed to JMIS data demonstrating various problems with juvenile detention in Illinois, including counties’ inconsistent use of it, widely varying lengths of stay for similar offenses and racial disparities in detention rates.”

Peoria County used the data to revamp its intake procedures when it comes to detaining little kids. “‘Going from 37 to one in a year is pretty remarkable and an amazing success story,’ Smith said. ‘It takes a lot of courage to take a good look at the data and have discussions with all the stakeholders about these difficult issues.’

HB 3767, a bill currently before the Illinois Senate, would amend the Juvenile Justice Act to raise the minimum age for detention from 10 to 13.”
New Funding and Office Aimed at Reducing Shootings in Illinois
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 11/10/2021
“Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday declared gun violence a ‘public health crisis’ and pledged to funnel $250 million over three years to reducing and interrupting shootings, a move he said is ‘about children who are being gunned down among us.’

The order also lays out a four-pronged approach to violence prevention that includes intervention programs for high-risk youth, violence prevention services — such as street-based violence interruption work and emotional or trauma-related therapy — after school and summer programming to increase youth school attendance and reduce contact with the criminal justice system and trauma-recovery services for young people.”
Police Hurt Thousands of Teens Every Year. A Striking Number Are Black Girls.
The Marshall Project
Published on: 11/9/2021
“A 2017 study by the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality found that adults often see Black girls as older and less innocent than White girls of the same age.

‘Our deeply embedded biases about Black children being dangerous applies both to boys and girls, and I think we forget that,’ said Kristin Henning, a Georgetown Law professor. ‘We wouldn’t even think about stopping a White girl in quite the way we stop a Black girl.’”
Homeless, Young and in Trouble with the Law: ‘I Was Angry’
The Crime Report
Published on: 11/8/2021
“His initial crime and arrest story, including the fact that he’s not since committed any serious crimes, fit a familiar pattern to juvenile justice watchers nationwide who study how such social determinants as poverty and neighborhood blight factor into some violent and other offenses.”
New Illinois ID Program for Those Being Released from Prison
Published on: 11/5/2021
“Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced a new program to provide individuals with a state ID card upon release from prison. ‘The State ID Program for Returning Residents gives people who have served their time in prison a necessary tool as they reenter their communities,’ said Secretary White. ‘A state ID card is essential to transition back into society.’

The program is expected to serve 27 IDOC facilities by April 2022. As of October 2021, 346 state ID cards have been processed. The average daily population at IDOC is 27,323.”
Anti-violence Programs Are Working. But Can They Make a Dent in Chicago’s Gun Violence?
Published on: 11/4/2021
“Researchers have been studying the programs now for more than three years, and say they’re surprised by how successful they have been at connecting with the incredibly hard-to-reach men at the center of the city’s gun violence and getting them to accept help. But despite the recent investment of millions in private and public money, they say the anti-violence efforts don’t have nearly the scale, structure or support to make a meaningful dent in the city’s overall levels of gun violence where more than 650 people were already killed this year and another 3,200 were shot.”
Bill Establishing Sub-circuit Judges about Diversity
Champaign News Gazette
Published on: 11/3/2021
“When state Rep. Carol Ammons looks at Champaign County’s six circuit judges, she sees too many White males. ‘My proposal is to create sub-circuits within Champaign County ... in an effort to create more opportunity for women and persons of color to serve as circuit judges and increase diversity,’ Ammons wrote to Champaign County Presiding Judge Randy Rosenbaum.”
#DebtFreeJustice Campaign Seeks to Abolish Fines and Fees on Court-involved Youth
Imprint News
Published on: 11/2/2021
Depending on the jurisdiction, thousands of dollars of fines and/or fees can be assessed against court-involved youth and their families. For those who can’t afford to pay, these assessments can drive youth deeper into the justice system and poverty, with lifelong consequences. The #DebtFreeJustice campaign is a national movement to abolish fees and fines by providing policy advocacy, litigation, and research.
‘Gang Contracts’ in Some Schools Raise Concerns about Criminalization of Youth
Injustice Watch
Published on: 11/1/2021
“Chris Bridges, program counsel at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said his organization worries that Morton High School District administrators might use the gang contracts to force students into alternative schools or push them out of school completely. ‘Law enforcement could potentially use them to criminalize students of color, who already face higher odds of being suspended, expelled and arrested at school,’ he wrote in an emailed response.

And there’s evidence that may be happening.”
I Was Sentenced to Life as a Juvenile. Now I Help Kids Build Brighter Futures.
The Marshall Project
Published on: 10/29/2021
“Imprisoned for 25 years, Fred Weatherspoon was shocked to return to a Chicago he didn’t recognize. He found belonging in an unexpected way — working with vulnerable young people and their families.”
Chicago to Expand Anti-violence Youth Program That Reduced Arrests in Pilot
Chalkbeat Chicago
Published on: 10/28/2021
“Chicago Public Schools will spend $7.5 million to expand an anti-violence program for teens in ‘high-risk situations’ and connect with them with weekly therapy and dedicated mentors.

The program, called Choose to Change, will reach 1,000 students this school year, CEO Pedro Martinez said Monday. Four community groups will help provide the services to students most impacted by violence and trauma.”
Most Correctional Workers Remain Unvaccinated – Rates Better in Youth Facilities
Published on: 10/27/2021
The Governor set a deadline of October 26th for state employees who work in prisons to get their first dose of a COVID vaccine or face discipline, up to losing their jobs. The vast majority of Illinois prisons are located in rural counties where vaccination rates are low. Nearly 57 percent of Illinoisans are fully vaccinated. The rate is 46 percent for correctional workers, with the exception of workers in youth facilities, of whom two thirds are vaccinated.
New Book Says SCOTUS Does Poor Job of Protecting Against Police Abuse & Racism
The ABA Journal
Published on: 10/26/2021
"The thesis of Erwin Chemerinsky’s latest book - Presumed Guilty: How the Supreme Court Empowered the Police and Subverted Civil Rights – is this: 'Many provisions of the Constitution exist to limit what police can do and to protect the rights of all of us, including those suspected and accused of crimes. Yet the court has done an ineffective, and indeed a poor job, of enforcing provisions of the Constitution intended to constrain the police. The Supreme Court has historically and consistently empowered the police to engage in racialized policing that especially harms people of color.'”
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
New York Times
Published on: 10/25/2021
“In 2018, at a maximum-security prison an hour outside of Chicago, a debate team gathered on a stage to argue the merits of reinstating parole in Illinois. Under current law — Illinois abolished discretionary parole in 1978 for all future offenders — none of the 14 members of the Stateville Correctional Center debate team would ever get to appear before a parole board.

A parole reform bill that arose from the Stateville debate team's efforts, Senate Bill 2333, is currently pending before the Illinois legislature. It encompasses many young people not covered by Illinois’ recent youthful parole bill, which didn’t apply retroactively.
Few Standards for Police Use of Force Against Children: Investigation
The Crime Report
Published on: 10/22/2021
"An Associated Press investigation has found that children as young as 6 have been treated harshly — even brutally — by officers of the law. They have been handcuffed, felled by stun guns, taken down and pinned to the ground by officers often far larger than they were. Departments nationwide have few or no guardrails to prevent such incidents.
Black children made up more than 50 percent of those who were handled forcibly, though they are only 15 percent of the U.S. child population. They and other minority kids are often perceived by police as being older than they are."
Judge Unseals Report On Mental Health Care In Illinois Prisons
Published on: 10/21/2021
“The monitor's 30-page report is critical of IDOC's efforts to comply with a settlement agreement approved in May 2016 that required Illinois prisons to make sweeping changes in mental health treatment.

According to Stewart, the inability to hire adequate staff remains ‘the major impediment’ for the state's compliance with the federal court order. Stewart called the state's assertion that staffing levels exceed what's required ‘baffling.’ Reports from Wexford, the private firm hired to provide health care for the state's 27,000 inmates, does not support the state's claim, according to Stewart.”
Don’t Overlook Local Prosecutors in Debate on Criminal Justice Reform
Washington Post
Published on: 10/20/2021
“Putting a brighter spotlight on the role of local prosecutors would be an important first step. Miriam Krinsky, the executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, called it a ‘black box’ that needs to be opened. ‘If this administration wants to impact mass incarceration, address racial inequities and reset the criminal legal system, this is a key way to bring about meaningful and lasting reform,’ said Ms. Krinsky, who is herself a former federal prosecutor.”
The Shadow Penal System for Struggling Kids
The New Yorker
Published on: 10/18/2021
"Teen Challenge, made up of more than a thousand centers, claims to reform troubled teens. But is its discipline more like abuse?"
‘The Only Answer They Have is Jail’: A 13-Year-Old’s Story
The Crime Report
Published on: 10/15/2021
Nearly every juvenile defender has seen clients unnecessarily land in detention because a parent doesn't want then back in the home or thinks a good scare will do them some good. In this first-hand account, "Z" shares the damage inflicted and asks why there isn't a better way.
2020 Uptick in Homicides Doesn’t Mean Criminal Reforms Aren’t Working
Yahoo News
Published on: 10/14/2021
“Several states have modernized their pretrial systems, curtailing the use of cash bail, a practice that disproportionately punishes low-income individuals and people of color. Reform skeptics warned that such changes would cause upticks in crime. Critically, those opponents were wrong.”
Two Criminal Justice Lawyers Pick 12 Books that Best Explain America’s Incarceration System
Business Insider
Published on: 10/7/2021
“America's criminal justice system can feel distant to those removed from courtrooms or prison cells. That's why reading books that humanize the system can help you better relate to the approximately 2.3 million people currently incarcerated in the US.”
Public Defenders Can Do More for Public Safety — If We Let Them
Washington Post
Published on: 10/6/2021
“Much of the talk around justice reform and rising crime focuses on police and prosecutors. Here, Emily Galvin-Almanza explores a different approach: using “Advocates” from the defense side, in addition to lawyers, to help defendants keep jobs and stay out of jail and off the streets. Galvin-Almanza spent six years as a public defender in New York City and is the founder and co-executive director of Partners for Justice, which works with clients to reduce incarceration and recidivism and, therefore, crime.”
What Happens when Prosecutors Stop Filing Misdemeanors
Big If True
Published on: 10/5/2021
“Misdemeanors don’t often receive much public attention. But for people on the receiving end of these charges, misdemeanors can be expensive, disruptive and a potential entry point to deeper involvement with the criminal legal system.

As some district and state’s attorneys reduce their misdemeanor caseloads, early research shows that this move led police to enforce fewer low-level misdemeanors without sacrificing public safety.”

For youth in Illinois and elsewhere, misdemeanor arrests are a powerful driver of deeper court involvement.
He Dropped Out Of High School After Witnessing A Murder. 10 Years Later, He’s Graduating.
Published on: 10/4/2021
“The Chicago CRED program offers life coaching, job training, a salary and online classes to get a high school diploma. Recently 46 men and women from the CRED program celebrated earning their high school degree. These are people fighting to get out of a life of gun violence. People who have already started down a new path, and who are hopeful their high school diplomas will be as big a turning point in their lives as when they joined a gang or first carried a gun.”
Don't Ignore the Infrastructure of Criminal Justice
The Hill
Published on: 10/1/2021
“Advocates for criminal justice reform from different fields and backgrounds are all reaching the same conclusion: Any attempt at real, lasting change will require a significant investment in our ability to collect, store, and share data. We cannot confirm that new policies work without tracking their outcomes. We cannot address racial injustice without data about policing practices, court processes, jail populations, and prison systems.

Meanwhile, the political discourse around critical issues like pretrial reform, gun violence, and police accountability all suffer from a lack of objective data.”
Op Ed: Progress Made in Taking School Discipline Out of the Hands of Cops
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 9/30/2021
“We urge those who agree with us — that there are better alternatives to cops in schools cracking down on 12-year-olds — to keep on pushing. We are seeing the beginning of a healthy shift in thinking about school discipline, and advocates for removing uniformed officers from school buildings deserve much of the credit. They are being heard.”
The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth
Published on: 9/29/2021
Professor Kristin Henning of Georgetown Law’s Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative, has just released the book youth advocates have been waiting for, The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. “We’ve long needed a great book on race and the juvenile legal system. Thanks to Kris Henning, we have it. Deeply researched and passionately argued, The Rage of Innocence details how we criminalize Black children—and explains how we can stop.”

Loyola University Chicago Law School and the Catholic Criminal Justice Reform Network is sponsoring a discussion of the book with Professor Henning and Pulitzer Prize winning author of Locking Up Our Own, Professor James Forman, Jr.
Garbage In, Gospel Out – New Report on Predictive Policing
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Published on: 9/28/2021
“The purpose of this Report by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys is to: (1) call attention to the rapid development and deployment of data-driven policing; (2) situate data-driven policing within the racialized historical context of policing and the criminal legal system; (3) make actionable recommendations that respond to the reality, enormity, and impact of data-driven policing; and (4) suggest strategies for defense lawyers in places where data-driven policing technology is employed.”
Formerly Incarcerated Teens Share their Research, Ideas to Improve the Juvenile Court System
The Current
Published on: 9/24/2021
Youth with experience in the juvenile court system are a rich, but largely untapped, resource for positive change. This group of young people helped rework probation agreement, block curfews, develop new approaches.
Illinois Supreme Court Announces Structural Changes to Pretrial Services
2Civility Illinois
Published on: 9/23/2021
“The Illinois Supreme Court announced this week structural changes that will move all pretrial services under the authority of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC). The changes will take place in phases over the next 16 months.

The move is aimed at achieving consistent statewide pretrial practices that are ‘fair, efficient, transparent, accountable, and adequately resourced using legal and evidence-based practices,’ the Court said in a press release. The new structure will also help ease the financial burden on Illinois counties.”
Electronic Monitoring in Chicago Is Pervasive, Due to Sensationalist Crime Reporting
Teen Vogue
Published on: 9/22/2021
“The facts of pretrial justice in Chicago make for a far less catchy headline: The rate of rearrests for violent offenses while on release pending trial remains the same as it was before Chicago limited the use of bail in 2017. At just 3%, it’s near nonexistent.”

Thanks to the Illinois Pre-trial Fairness Act, “starting January 1, 2022, before ordering e-carceration, judges will first be required to share in writing why they believe e-carceration is necessary for the community's safety. Every 60 days after, judges will be required to review their decision. E-carceration may continue only if needed to avoid a specific, real threat and present danger to a person or willful flight from prosecution. The result: Fewer people will be subject to harsh state surveillance and more will be freed after review.”
Supervisors in DOJJ Facilities Must Vaccinate, but No Agreement for Other Staff News
Published on: 9/21/2021
The State of Illinois has reached an agreement with supervisory employees in the Department of Juvenile Justice and DOC to require COVID-19 vaccinations, but other staff members responsible for caring for children in state care are not subject to the mandate. Only 44 percent of DOJJ and DOC staff are currently vaccinated.
Arizona the First State to Nix Peremptory Challenges
Published on: 9/20/2021
Proponents of the change “relied on decades-old arguments based on numerous empirical studies that found racial imbalances in American juries both before and after the Supreme Court formulated the current framework for conducting peremptory challenges. Justice Thurgood Marshall predicted correctly in Batson that the test meant to prevent discriminatory peremptory challenges was too easy to evade and urged the majority to eliminate the practice altogether.”
Chicago Police Pull Over Black Drivers 7 Times More Often Than White Drivers, State Report Shows
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 9/16/2021
Unnecessary stops have increased since the annual study was commissioned in 2003 – and the vast majority are unrelated to public safety. Citations were issue less than 10 percent of the time, and guns were found in less than one percent of encounters. Vast racial disparities continue to exist, with white drivers being more likely to be found with contraband despite being less likely to be pulled over in the first place.

In addition to constitutional concerns, it is “especially harmful that Black and Latino Chicagoans are so heavily impacted by the surge in traffic stops since any interaction with police can spiral into a situation of police violence, said Daniel Massoglia, an attorney and civil rights clinic director for First Defense Legal Aid.”
Ethical, Authentic, and Youth-led Advocacy
The Juvenile Law Center
Published on: 9/15/2021
The Juvenile Law Center has issued its latest publication, Building the Field of Ethical, Authentic, and Youth-led Advocacy: Key Components of a Youth Advocacy Program. “The key components guide is a document intended for those who work with youth and youth themselves engaged in experience-led advocacy. It is designed to provide guiding principles and a framework for developing and supporting youth-led advocacy, using the best practices Juvenile Law Center's Youth Advocacy Program has gleaned over the past twelve years.”
Reentry Programs, Reforms Helped Lower Recidivism Rates by Nearly Half: Report
The Crime Report
Published on: 9/14/2021
“An overall decline in recidivism rates may have been driven by federal and state reentry programs and changes in policing strategy, according to an analysis of 2005-2012 data by the Council on Criminal Justice.”
Why Many Districts Are Struggling Over whether to Keep Officers in Schools
NBC News
Published on: 9/13/2021
“Policing in schools continues to be debated across the country in an ongoing racial re-examination, with many districts still struggling with what to do in light of robust data showing the disparate treatment of minority students. Many justice experts say policing has been so deeply intertwined with schooling that parting with the programs can be a hard pill to swallow for districts.

Ben Fisher, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University who researches school policing, said districts find it difficult to part with police because they are viewed as an extra layer of safety even though there is no objective research to establish that they make schools safer.”
Youth Justice System Worsened During Pandemic
The Crime Report
Published on: 9/10/2021
“The pandemic has made it more difficult for justice-involved youth to receive fair treatment in the justice system, according to a report by the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC). ‘What has passed as due process in this time of COVID threatens to unravel the fabric of the Constitutional protections that stand between young people and injustice,’ wrote the authors of the report, entitled ‘Due Process in the Time of COVID.’

They warned that the pandemic has ‘magnified’ communication, access and racial bias issues in the already-troubled youth justice system, and threatens to cause permanent damage.”
The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Significant Work on Probation Reform for Youth
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Published on: 9/9/2021
“Given juvenile probation’s significant footprint, transforming juvenile probation presents an enormous opportunity to improve the entire juvenile justice system. Given research on adolescent behavior and brain development and evidence about interventions that consistently reduce delinquency, the knowledge now exists to get juvenile probation right.”

To that end, the Foundation has compiled a variety of material “that provide key tips, tools and recommendations for transforming juvenile probation that are organized to help users find the right resource for their need.”
Texas woman who works with indigent defendants says she was arrested in retaliation for her work
Washington Post
Published on: 9/8/2021
“As the holistic approach to indigent defense becomes increasingly popular, proponents of the model have begun to clash with those accustomed to the old way of doing things. Harris is only the latest example: Two public defenders in Pennsylvania were fired in 2020 for submitting an amicus brief to that state’s supreme court for a case about cash bail. And last year, a district attorney in California threatened a whistleblower complaint against a public defender for blog posts he wrote during the George Floyd protests.”
These Students Grew Up Around Gun Violence. They Decided It Was Time To Talk About It.
Published on: 9/6/2021
"‘It was always something we were around, but not something that was talked about,’" says Makiyah Hicks. So Hicks, along with her classmates Jonetta Harrison and Quin Wells, decided to talk about it. The students, all recent graduates of the Duke Ellington School, made a podcast about gun violence in D.C., and how families of victims are shaped by the loss.”
How pandemic practice left lawyer-moms facing burnout
ABA Journal
Published on: 9/3/2021
"It is a law of physics that two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Otherwise, matter can collapse in on itself like a black hole. If ever there was a moment when the principles of quantum mechanics applied to American households, this is it. After protracted stay-at-home measures with family members confined together—working, studying, struggling—the bottom fell out, exposing a void where a net was supposed to be.

As the world ground to a halt and parents scrambled for solutions, an uncomfortable truth emerged: Women are America’s default social safety net."
Troubling Treatment: Efforts are underway to reform teen behavioral programs
ABA Journal
Published on: 9/2/2021
“Although a number of people say these programs helped to positively change their lives, critics of the industry argue that no federal oversight or consistent regulations among states put vulnerable children at greater risk. For example, a program that is licensed as a therapeutic boarding school in one state may be licensed as a residential treatment center in another state.

In addition, many states exempt religious boarding schools from licensing requirements entirely, in addition to not requiring any oversight by education or child welfare authorities. Because programs exist in a murky area of the law, it has been difficult to track and curtail abuses that have occurred over the years.”
New Legislation Creates Safer Learning Environments for Students News
Published on: 9/1/2021
“Building on efforts to cultivate safe and inclusive classrooms, Governor JB Pritzker today signed House Bill 219 into law, seeking to end the use of physical restraints to discipline students in public schools. The legislation, which received wide bipartisan support, aims to eliminate solitary time out and other restrictive interventions within three years, while expanding training and accountability in schools as it relates to these practices.”
Chicago Police Defend Gang Database, More than 2 Years After Watchdog Called it ‘Deeply Flawed'
Published on: 8/31/2021
“Chicago Police Department officials on Tuesday defended their continuing use of “deeply flawed” records that list approximately 135,000 Chicagoans as members of gangs nearly 2 1/2 years after the city’s watchdog found the databases were riddled with errors, ripe for abuse and disproportionately targeted Black and Latino Chicagoans.”
ABA House encourages prosecutors to collect and publish case data
The ABA Journal
Published on: 8/30/2021
“Resolution 504 urges all prosecutors’ offices to produce regular reports that include the crimes charged; defendant’s or respondent’s race, gender and ZIP code; recommendations related to pretrial release and the court’s decisions; the disposition of each charge; and case rejection rates from all stages of criminal and juvenile processes.

The resolution also urges these offices to make the data available and accessible to the public, subject to any confidentiality requirements.”
Urbana Police revise policy to reduce structural biases and build trust with community
Published on: 8/27/2021
“The Use of Force policy revision reflects the City’s commitment to the NAACP’s Ten Shared Principles of community policing and prioritizes de-escalation during encounters with the public. It also reflects many comments and suggestions received from the Urbana City Council and through public engagement over the past ten months and aligns with the Illinois General Assembly’s recently passed police reform legislation,” Urbana Police Chief Bryant Seraphin said.
Chicago will limit when schools call police. Do changes go far enough?
Chicago Chalkbeat
Published on: 8/26/2021
“Chicago will limit when school administrators can call police and advise them to first consider factors such as a student’s disability or past trauma.

The revisions to the student code of conduct policy come in the wake of years of lobbying by student activists, a renewed urgency sparked by protests for racial justice, and some high-profile cases at campuses.”
Chicago youth offer public policy suggestions to city leaders through Mikva Challenge
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 8/25/2021
“The kids’ feedback centered on school curriculum, an independent audit of the controversial gunshot detection technology ShotSpotter and an expansion of restorative justice court. The Juvenile Justice Council under Mikva addressed suggested a minimum age of 14 for detainment, in addition to alternatives to juvenile detention.

‘We talk a lot about what happens to youth after they get out of the detention,’ said Octavio Montesdeoca, a UIC student who took part. ‘It’s a band-aid on a bullet wound. We need to provide resources before they get into the juvenile system to avoid trauma. We need to be providing community-based alternatives earlier to mitigate people being incarcerated.’”
Interrupting Implicit Bias in the Illinois Judiciary
2Civility Illinois
Published on: 8/24/2021
“If our justice system is fair and just for all, why is there a consistent disparity in the sentencing of some groups compared to others? Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve regularly seen individuals of color, specifically African American males, jailed and sentenced at a higher and harsher rate than their peers.

While thinkers have advanced countless theories to explain this discrepancy, it’s wise to consider whether members of the judiciary have the tools they need to make sure their decisions are fair and just.”

Illinois courts “have created educational tools, resources, and trainings to support judges in understanding and disrupting possible biases so they can render fair judgments.”
On The West Side, New Youth Hub Will Offer Space To Learn, Create And Grow
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 8/23/2021
“The new ‘youth and community hub’ will allow BUILD to grow its programs for kids and teens that are ‘engaging them in community, bringing them in the sports and arts and music and food, providing mentors and safe spaces,’ said Adam Alonso, the CEO of BUILD.

The development will have facilities dedicated to the Peace and Justice Center, a restorative justice collaborative BUILD participates in.”
New Illinois Bill Advances Equity, Reduces Mandatory Minimums for Youth News
Published on: 8/20/2021
The legislation, which takes effect immediately, “enhances procedural justice by removing mandatory penalties that create longer sentences for younger teens than for older youth who commit the same offenses. Youth labeled as Habitual Juvenile Offenders or Violent Offenders will no longer be committed until age 21, but instead will receive a proportionate extension to their stay at IDJJ.

The bill also clarifies concurrent sentencing, so that calculating sentences is done uniformly for youth across the state.” And it prohibits the use of isolation as a punishment.
Data Collection Is Crucial For Equity In Diversion Programs
Law 360
Published on: 8/19/2021
“The Prosecutorial Performance Indicators project, an initiative led by researchers at the Florida International University and Loyola University of Chicago to help prosecutors collect data to improve their methods, recently released a report that looked at racial disparities in the number of people who had their cases diverted from criminal courts to diversion programs, like mental health or drug courts.”
If Google wants to reform criminal justice, it should start with its search results
Published on: 8/13/2021
Did you know that in the U.S., if you declare bankruptcy, after 10 years there is no record of this fact anywhere? Yet if you have anything on your past criminal record, even a smaller charge such as possession of marijuana or bouncing a check, this mistake remains in your Internet search results forever.

To solve this problem, Google should provide people with criminal records a way to expunge their record from search results after a given period of time.
Are Virtual Courtrooms Here to Stay?
The Crime Report
Published on: 8/11/2021
"When the pandemic forced attorneys to present their cases remotely, courtroom members had little time to adapt in-person practices to online platforms. Some changes were glaring, like the court’s inability to ‘all rise’ remotely. Others were smaller but still consequential: sitting behind separate screens, clients and attorneys could no longer whisper to one another — a loss that Howard ‘Rex’ Dimmig, the public defender for the 10th Judicial Circuit of Florida, said conveys the disadvantages of virtual court proceedings."
High-Risk Youth Recidivism Halved by Diversion Program
The Crime Report
Published on: 8/10/2021
Diversion programs in juvenile court often focus on lower risk youth and can provide too much intervention. In an effort to reduce reoffending and keep youth out of detention, “DDAP chooses to focus on having high-risk juveniles participate in its program since studies have shown that interventional and supportive programs were most effective whereas, for low-risk juveniles, programs that provided youth with a ‘caution’ and were low intervention were most efficacious.

‘We go for the highest risk population — if it succeeds with this population, then why are you keeping the lower risk population in the hall?’”
Juvenile Court Records Shed Light On Adult Recidivism
Published on: 8/9/2021
Researchers at Illinois State University have begun analyzing a decade’s worth of data from the McLean County Juvenile Detention Center and the County Jail, looking for ways in which youth may trend toward adult court involvement and the role of mental health. Researchers believe “judges, prosecutors, defenders, and others can use the data to adjust court diversionary programs.”
Champaign Police & Unit 4 Schools Announce Temporary Suspension of School Resource Officer Program
Published on: 8/6/2021
“’As we strive to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students and staff, we will continue to work closely with our partners at CPD. This is an opportunity for us to proactively approach the security of our students and staff from a social-emotional and equity lens,’ said Unit 4 Superintendent Dr. Shelia Boozer. ‘We plan to strengthen student supports through restorative proactive, therapeutic crisis intervention (TCI) training, and introducing Student Support Advocates (SSAs) as part of our staffing.’”
National Judicial Organization Issues Probation Toolkit for Juvenile Judges
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Published on: 8/5/2021
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) has released 'The Role of the Judge in Transforming Juvenile Probation: A Toolkit for Leadership.'

This Toolkit for judges follows the NCJFCJ’s 2017 'Resolution Regarding Juvenile Probation and Adolescent Development,' that called for a research-informed approach to juvenile probation that is individualized, partners with youth and families, doesn't include too many conditions, avoids unnecessary detention, and promotes long-term success. "'Rather than expecting perfect compliance with probation requirements, goals, and expectations,’ the Resolution recommended that probation should ‘[e]mphasize effort and improvement through a process of behavior change,’ and it should ‘[u]tilize incentives and rewards to motivate youth to meet expectations and goals.’”
Study: Body Cameras Close the Racial Gap in Police Misconduct Investigations
GSU News Hub
Published on: 8/4/2021
“Video footage captured by police-worn body cameras is closing racial gaps in police misconduct investigations according to research by criminologists and economists. . . . ‘Police bodycams – when they’re turned on – even the playing field by introducing objective evidence into the investigation of complaints about police behavior [and] help eliminate ambiguities and conflicting accounts among Black and Hispanic complainants more often than whites, narrowing proven disparities among racial lines.’

Before the adoption of police bodycams, evidence suggests the Chicago PD citizen complaint investigations process produced biased outcomes.”
Former Youth Center Worker Admits to Misconduct
The Daily Herald
Published on: 8/2/2021
A former Illinois Youth Center employee pleaded guilty to felony official misconduct and was sentenced to 30 months’ probation after she engaged in sexual contact with an 18-year-old youth at the St. Charles facility.
More than 30 Chicago high schools will pursue alternatives to police
Injustice Watch
Published on: 7/30/2021
“When students at Hyde Park Academy High School on the South Side return to school next year, a new dean of school culture and climate will begin handling some disputes through restorative justice. The Gordon S. Hubbard High School in West Lawn will have a dedicated staff member coordinating social and emotional support for students. And the Emil G. Hirsch Metropolitan High School in Greater Grand Crossing will have a full-time social worker.

All three schools will free up funds for these positions by removing one of their two in-school police officers.”
Study: Police Talk Less Respectfully to Black People Than White at Traffic Stops
Published on: 7/29/2021
“In a study published earlier this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Attitudes and Social Cognition, a group of researchers and professors analyzed the audio from traffic stops to understand if cops treat Black and white men differently during these encounters.

The big reveal: Cops talk differently and more negatively to Black drivers than white ones during traffic stops, aggravating tension between law enforcement and minority communities.”
High Incarceration Rate Is Drag on U.S. Growth, Fed Official Says
Bloomberg Equality
Published on: 7/28/2021
“The high level of incarceration in the U.S., especially among Americans of color and indigenous people, constrains the labor market and the economy’s ability to reach its full potential, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic said. . . . ‘Incarceration and how we execute criminal justice inhibits global competitiveness, [and]can have the effect of exacerbating race-based employment, income and wealth disparities, which can limit economic mobility and resilience and ultimately constrain labor markets and compromise the performance of the overall economy.’

Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said that the U.S. may need to take a look at what it considers criminal offenses, especially when it comes to non-safety issues. With marijuana now legalized in many places, it may make sense to examine if other things can be decriminalized.”
In A Major Step For Chicago Police Reform, Civilians Gain Oversight Of Department
Published on: 7/27/2021
“In Chicago, the city council has approved a plan that, for the first time, will give civilians direct oversight of the city's police department. It's part of a years-long push to make police officers more accountable to the residents whom they serve. And it could make Chicago a model for what independent community-based police oversight looks like.”
Trauma-Informed Legal Advocacy: A Resource for Juvenile Defense Attorneys
Published on: 7/26/2021
This resource from the American Bar Association, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, and the National Juvenile Defender Association “is intended to provide juvenile defense attorneys with an increased understanding of what trauma-informed legal advocacy entails, how trauma impacts child development, the attorney-client relationship, family and caregivers, and attorneys themselves. Additionally, this resource addresses screening and assessment, information sharing, transitions and placement decisions, and effective treatments for traumatic stress.

Within each topic area, strategies for integrating this knowledge into legal advocacy (“Practice Tips”) are offered. Finally, this resource is intended to help you understand your role as the gatekeeper of trauma-based information for your client and support judiciously choosing how and when to use this information to best advocate for your client.”
Child Poverty Improved In Illinois Before COVID-19 — But Gaps Remain
Published on: 7/23/2021
“A child poverty report released Monday shows major improvement in the last decade, but for kids in many rural pockets of the state, progress was less significant. That was not only true about geography, but also differences between racial and ethnic groups, according to the nonprofit Voices for Illinois Children’s 2021 Kids Count report.”
Can Criminal Justice Reform Survive a Wave of Violent Crime?
New Republic
Published on: 7/22/2021
“An uptick in homicides across the country is getting blamed on reforms. That argument gets the data all wrong. To be clear, the defenders of the status quo are mistaken. Not only have reforms been less extreme than they often claim, but the rise in homicides has occurred more or less equally in places that adopted reforms and those that rejected them.

What’s more, to argue in favor of the status quo is to ignore that the prescribed cure—more of what we have been doing for decades now—is almost certainly not the best cure, and is quite likely not even a good cure.”
What Do Police Know About Teenagers? Not Enough.
New York Times
Published on: 7/21/2021
“In the training session, ‘Policing the Teen Brain,’ [officers] learned all the ways that adolescents are different from adults. For instance, because of their less-developed prefrontal cortex — the part of the brain charged with problem solving and controlling irrational behavior — and the coursing hormones of puberty, they are not always in command of their actions. Children who have suffered violence or other trauma are even more likely to become emotionally unstable under stress.

Most police never learn this.”
Gov. Signs New Law Creating Privilege for Statements Made in Restorative Justice Diversion Programs
Chicago Defender
Published on: 7/20/2021
“Senate Bill 64, which encourages the use of restorative justice practices by providing that participation in such practices and anything said or done during the practice is privileged and may not be used in any future proceeding unless the privilege is waived by the informed consent of the party or parties covered by the privilege.”

The new legislation is effective immediately and applies in delinquency, criminal, civil, and administrative hearings.
From prison, a convicted drug dealer designed a board game. It challenges players to go legit.
Washington Post
Published on: 7/19/2021
“At the time, Parker envisioned the games sitting on tables at group homes, juvenile detention centers and prisons. ‘I kept thinking of my 14-year-old self and how there were still 14-year-olds and 15-year-olds being incarcerated,” he tells me on a recent evening. “I thought what if they had something they could interact with and get a view of the path that they’re going down? What if they could visually see it while they’re playing?’”
Chicago’s top cop blames the courts — again — after one of the most violent Fourth of July weekends
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 7/16/2021
“But the police superintendent was immediately attacked by Cook County’s state’s attorney, chief judge and public defender, who all said Brown’s criticism was simplistic and not based on reality.”
Detention of Children 10-12 Years Old In Illinois: A Call to Action
Published on: 7/15/2021
Despite the well-documented harms caused by juvenile detention and the availability of alternatives, 15 of Illinois’ 102 counties still detain children as young as 10 to 12 years old. The largest numbers occur in mid-sized counties with their own local detention centers – and can include incarceration for property crimes, warrants, and probation violations. The racial disparities are profound, and the number of girls being detained is on the rise.

To learn more and see how your own county is doing, take a look at the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s recent report ‘Detention of Children 10-12 Years Old In Illinois: A Call to Action.’
Why Implicit Bias Training For Police Doesn't Work — And What Can Be Done To Combat Racism
Published on: 7/14/2021
“In the aftermath of recent police killings of Black Americans, many departments have implemented implicit bias training for officers. Here & Now's Tonya Mosley speaks with Jack Glaser, a University of California, Berkeley social psychologist whose work focuses on police interactions and implicit bias.”
Missouri Supreme Court Poised to Decide Constitutionality of Remote Trials
The Missouri Independent
Published on: 7/13/2021
Briefing has begun in two defense challenges to remote proceedings under the state’s confrontation clause – a COVID-triggered remote delinquency trial of a 12-year-old where all the state witnesses testified remotely and a criminal trial involving remote testimony from a state lab employee on paternity leave.
Ankle Monitors Tether Wearers to the Carceral System: Study
The Crime Report
Published on: 7/12/2021
Former juvenile defender and GW School of Law associate professor Kate Wesiburd “details in her latest research published by the Virginia Law Review that electronic ankle monitors are keeping people tethered to the prison system longer than necessary — and there’s no substantial evidence to suggest the monitoring is rehabilitative.”
Predictive policing strategies for children face pushback
NBC News
Published on: 7/9/2021
Under the label of “intelligence-led policing,” law enforcement collects information about youth from a variety of sources, including law enforcement and school records, to predict which young people are most likely to commit future crimes.

“Criminal justice advocates say programs like these targeting adolescents, and the broader trend to increase surveillance in schools under the guise of school safety, fuel the so-called school-to-prison pipeline. This is where instead of letting children and teenagers make and learn from their mistakes, they are marked as criminals at an early age — even if they are only interacting with school resource officers. Once they are in the criminal justice system, it’s almost impossible to escape.”
Black and brown children are not 'superpredators' and should not spend life in prison
The Hill
Published on: 7/8/2021
“The truth is, it did not take much for the superpredator myth to thrive. America was more than ready to accept that children of color were unworthy of dignity, largely because we are so well-practiced in doing so.” In its recently released report The Origins of the Superpredator: the Child Study Movement to Today the Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth looks at the development of the superpredator myth of the 1990s and makes recommendations for repairing the damage inflicted by myth-driven policies.
Speedy Trial Deadlines to be Reinstated in Illinois Courts
Illinois Supreme Court & WBEZ
Published on: 7/7/2021
Current COVID-related tolling of statutory speedy trial rights in delinquency and criminal courts will be lifted October 1, 2021. Days prior to the suspension of speedy trial will count toward the new calculations.

But Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell is troubled by the delayed start date. “We are now at a time where baseball stadiums and basketball stadiums are filled to the brim. And the idea that we can do all that, but … we can’t restore that right, immediately. It’s just, I just can’t wrap my head around it.”
Bill to End Criminalization of Students Reintroduced in Congress
Published on: 7/6/2021
"The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act would prohibit the use of federal funds to increase police presence in schools. Instead it would provide $5 billion in new grant funding to help schools hire more counselors, social workers and other behavioral health personnel, and implement services that create positive and safe climates for all students. It also incentivizes states and districts to bring an end to the criminalization of young people, particularly Black, Native American and Latino students, immigrant students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students and other historically marginalized students."
Op-Ed: The In-between
Southside Weekly
Published on: 7/5/2021
This firsthand account by scholar and incarcerated person Phillip Hartsfield discusses the dilemma for young people stuck between truth-in-sentencing and a youthful parole bill that’s not retroactive. “Many of these youth have languished in prison for decades, rehabilitated themselves, and statistically have the lowest recidivism rates of most returning citizens. If the youthful offender parole bill applied to them, the years they have already served might allow them to already be going home. Similarly, if they had been convicted pre-TIS they would be home now as well.” But for those “convicted between 1998 and June 1, 2019 they are stuck, set aside as a different species in purgatory, never to be released.”
First Confirmed Appellate Justice of New Administration a Black Woman and Former Public Defender
Bloomberg Law
Published on: 7/2/2021
Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed on Monday to the D.C. Circuit, a circuit often viewed as a springboard to the U. S. Supreme Court. Jackson, who is just the ninth Black woman to join the federal appellate bench, will join the 1% of federal appellate judges who spent the majority of their legal careers in public defense or legal aid. All of Biden’s circuit court appointments thus far have some public defense experience.
Youth Justice Needs Specialized Training of Judges, Lawyers, Court Employees, and Courtroom Language
Juvenile Justice Information Exchange
Published on: 7/1/2021
“It is not enough to just say we should ‘treat kids like kids.’ Juvenile court practitioners need concrete guidance. That’s why Fair and Just Prosecution, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and National Juvenile Defender Center worked together to issue a joint statement on how important legal specialization is for those working in the juvenile court system; and to issue “Seeing What’s Underneath: A Resource for Understanding Behavior & Using Language in Juvenile Court,” a new resource, developed with the Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Initiative, that provides guidance for legal practitioners and other court employees.”
Supreme Court Rules for Cheerleader Punished for Vulgar Snapchat Message
New York Times
Published on: 6/30/2021
“The decision, on a vote of 8 to 1, did not establish a categorical ban on regulating student speech outside of school, citing the need of school systems to be able to deal with issues like bullying and threats. Instead, it set out factors that courts should assess in weighing the right of administrators to punish speech in nonschool settings, with one important component being whether parents are better suited to handle the situation.”
The False Hope of the Progressive-Prosecutor Movement
The Atlantic
Published on: 6/29/2021
“It is unrealistic to expect that even reform-minded prosecutors (or anyone, for that matter) can and will dispense justice when they have virtually boundless power and almost unlimited discretion to use it against criminal defendants. To transform the criminal legal system, prosecutors must stop resisting—and indeed start supporting—efforts by courts and legislatures to reduce their power.

Expand the consideration of who should not face criminal punishment beyond those who commit only very low-level offenses. . . . Advocate for the reallocation of funds from your office’s budget to social services that keep people out of the criminal legal system entirely, and to the indigent defense system that advocates on behalf of those who are prosecuted. . . . Lobby for more external limits on prosecutorial power, such as the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and other laws that enable coercive plea bargaining.”
Get police out of the business of traffic stops
Washington Post
Published on: 6/28/2021
“For those worried these proposals will hamper police enforcement of criminal law, research has shown that traffic stops aren’t a good way to solve more serious crime. The Stanford Computational Policy Lab, in collaboration with the New York University School of Law’s Policing Project, recently analyzed traffic enforcement by the Nashville police. Not only did project members find racial disparities in police enforcement, but also they concluded that ‘traffic stops are not an effective strategy for reducing crime.’”
Central Park 'Exonerated 5' Member Reflects On Freedom And Forgiveness
Published on: 6/25/2021
“In 1989, 15-year-old Yusef Salaam was one of five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly accused of assault and rape in the so-called Central Park jogger case. . . . Each of the boys, then known as the "Central Park Five," was convicted. It wasn't until 2002 — well after Salaam had completed his nearly seven-year prison sentence — that DNA evidence confirmed that they were all innocent. A serial rapist and murderer had acted alone in committing the crime.”
Lawyers: Ruling May Not Impact State's Young Offenders
Published on: 6/24/2021
"Illinois defenders are cautiously optimistic that little will change in Illinois following the U. S. Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in Jones v. Mississippi."
Psychiatry Confronts Its Racist Past, and Tries to Make Amends
The Atlantic
Published on: 6/23/2021
“Psychiatry continued to pathologize — and sometimes demonize — African-Americans, with the result that, by the 1970s, the diagnosis of psychosis was handed out so often that the profession was essentially ‘turning schizophrenia into a Black man’s disorder of aggression and agitation,’ said Dr. Hairston, a contributor to the 2019 book, ‘Racism and Psychiatry.’

Since then, numerous studies have shown that an almost all-white profession’s lack of attunement to Black expressions of emotion — and its frequent conflation of distress with anger — has led to an under-diagnosis of major depression, particularly in Black men, and an overreliance upon the use of antipsychotic medications.”

(A reminder that biases are present in all professions and could have potential adverse effects on client evaluations.)
Cook County public defenders can represent immigrants facing deportation
Published on: 6/22/2021
“Unlike criminal defendants, immigrants facing deportation don’t have the right to a government-appointed attorney. The Cook County public defender’s office created an immigration unit last year to represent immigrants in immigration court, but it needed authorization from the state legislature to do so.”
New Partnership to Provide Wraparound Services to Central Illinois Youth News
Published on: 6/21/2021
Forty percent of Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) commitments come from Central Illinois, but there are no transitional services in the region. DJJ has announced a new partnership with National Youth Advocate Program, Inc. (NYAP) to provide community-based services to youth in Champaign, Macon, Sangamon, Peoria, and Vermillion counties, that will allow a continuum of support to youth and families in this region—before, during and after release from DJJ commitment.

Youth will have access to a variety of holistic supports and services, including individual and family psychotherapy, mentoring, case management, and educational and vocational support. DJJ believes this partnership will allow it “to more equitably and effectively serve youth and families in this region by providing needed services and interventions in youth's homes and communities of origin.”
Juneteenth Declared a Federal and Illinois Holiday
Published on: 6/18/2021
“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible - and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama

As we commemorate and give thanks for the first time when all Americans enjoyed freedom and independence, we as public defenders recommit ourselves to fighting the injustices and inequities that still disproportionately fall on the heads of our Black clients, families, neighbors, colleagues, and friends.

As Fannie Lou Hamer reminds us, “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”
Lack of statewide oversight has led to excessive caseloads for Illinois public defenders, study says
Injustice Watch
Published on: 6/17/2021
“Public defenders across Illinois are struggling with excessive caseloads and a lack of independence that is negatively affecting their clients, according to a new study commissioned by the Illinois Supreme Court. Illinois is one of just seven states in the country without a state commission, agency, or officer that sets standards for indigent representation, according to the report. That means the state government has no way of determining if each county has enough lawyers, enough time to handle cases, or enough resources. In all of Illinois’ 102 counties aside from Cook County, public defenders are appointed by circuit court judges.

An Illinois bill awaiting Gov. Pritzker’s signature will create a public defender task force to make recommendations by the end of next year.
Treating All Kids as Kids
The Brennan Center
Published on: 6/15/2021
“America’s mistreatment of Black children is chronic and casual. Sadly, it is an American phenomenon — a handed-down thing — that is deeply rooted in American soil and in the American psyche. Virtually every system that touches Black children in this country — public schools, foster care, immigration — treats them more harshly than white children. Arguably, though, the most acute harm occurs in the criminal justice system, where we routinely exercise the power to designate and derail.”
Chemerinsky: Precedent seems to matter little in the Roberts Court
ABA Journal
Published on: 6/14/2021
"How much does stare decisis matter in the Roberts Court? Jones v. Mississippi and Edwards v. Vannoy and decisions from past terms provide an answer: not much."
Mayor Blamed Gun Violence On Judges, But Her Staff Knew It Wasn’t True
Published on: 6/10/2021
“Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police superintendents who work for her have repeatedly blamed judges when the city’s violence starts to rise. The argument goes like this: If judges would keep more people locked up after arrest, then they wouldn’t be able to commit crimes, and violence in Chicago would decrease.

It’s a line of reasoning that has been popular with American politicians for decades and reflects the thinking that has propelled mass incarceration.” But emails show high-ranking city officials knew that lower bonds and releases on electronic monitoring weren't behind the spike.
Chicago Police Are No Longer Allowed To Chase People For Minor Offenses Under New Policy
Published on: 6/9/2021
"Two months after the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, Chicago police unveiled a new policy governing when and how officers should engage in foot chases. The policy tells officers they are not allowed to pursue someone suspected only of committing a minor traffic offense, or suspected of committing a low-level misdemeanor, unless the person poses an 'obvious' threat to the community.

It also provides guidance on ways cops can avoid foot pursuits altogether, and directs Chicago police to never chase if they believe the risk to officers or the public outweighs the need for 'immediate apprehension.'”
High court hears challenge to mandatory life for young adults
Capitol News Illinois
Published on: 6/8/2021
The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral argument in May in People v. House. The question presented in House was whether the record on appeal was sufficient to find that a mandatory life sentence for murder by accountability by a 19-year-old violated Illinois’ proportionate penalties clause under Miller-like principles. Audio and video of the argument is available.
Illinois Bill Would Expand Civics to Incarcerated Youth
U S News
Published on: 6/7/2021
Illinois stands on the cusp of expanding voting and civics education to young people incarcerated at the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice who are older than 17 and within a year of their release date. Senate Bill 2116, which has cleared both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly, would ensure that incarcerated youths have access to voter registration, information on how to vote, and opportunities to co-facilitate the civics education curriculum with their peers in state juvenile facilities.

Supporters of the bill said the idea behind the legislation is to help ensure that, before their release, incarcerated youths know the process for voter registration and are equipped to engage meaningfully in civics life as they reintegrate into society.
IL Supreme Court: Courthouses statewide can lift masking rules for vaccinated visitors, workers
Cook County Record
Published on: 6/4/2021
Effective May 27th, “the high court, following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, now said courts may opt not to require face coverings for people who have been fully vaccinated. However, the order still allows lower courts throughout the state to require everyone in courthouses to wear face coverings, regardless of their vaccination status.”
Illinois to become first state to ban police officers from lying to minors during interrogations
USA Today
Published on: 6/3/2021
“Illinois could soon become the first state to bar police from lying to minors during interrogations, a tactic advocates say significantly increases the risk of false confessions. If a law enforcement officer knowingly provides ‘false information about evidence or leniency’ during an interrogation, any statements from someone under 18 would be inadmissible as evidence in court, according to a bill that passed the Illinois General Assembly with near-unanimous support. Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign it into law in the coming weeks.”
Illinois Dramatically Limits Use of Seclusion and Face-Down Restraints in Schools
Pro Publica
Published on: 6/2/2021
"A new bill will ban school workers from locking children in seclusion spaces and limit most uses of isolated timeout and physical restraint. A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation found widespread abuse of the practices in Illinois."
Governor Pritzker indicates he will sign the bill.
Youth Correctional Leaders for Change Say Raise the Minimum Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction to 14
Youth Correctional Leaders for Change
Published on: 5/28/2021
"Unlike every other advanced nation on earth, the U.S. sets no minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction below which children cannot be arrested or taken to court...As current and former administrators of youth justice agencies, we know how challenging it is – and how dangerous – to confine very young children away from their families and keep them safe in facilities populated by older and more mature adolescents. We are also acutely aware of the research showing that arresting, prosecuting and punishing young people in the legal system has severe negative consequences for these children, and actually harms our public safety."

Illinois defenders thank two Illinois' signatories to the recommendations, Avik Das and Mike Rohan. Illinois has no minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction.
Did the Supreme Court Base a Ruling on a Myth?
New York Times
Published on: 5/26/2021
“The Supreme Court has indeed said the risk that sex offenders will commit new crimes is ‘frightening and high.’ That phrase, in a 2003 decision upholding Alaska’s sex offender registration law, has been exceptionally influential. It has appeared in more than 100 lower-court opinions, and it has helped justify laws that effectively banish registered sex offenders from many aspects of everyday life.

But there is vanishingly little evidence for the Supreme Court’s assertion that convicted sex offenders commit new offenses at very high rates. The story behind the notion, it turns out, starts with a throwaway line in a glossy magazine.”

Illinois has issued a handful of reports in recent years acknowledging the gap between perception and reality, especially when it comes to youth. But it still maintains a mandatory registration system for all children. And the mechanism for petitioning off that registry is woefully inadequate.
Police shootings of children spark new outcry, calls for training to deal with adolescents in crisis
Washington Post
Published on: 5/25/2021
“A Washington Post database of fatal force incidents finds most children shot by police are minorities and less likely to be armed than adults shot by police.”
Briefs Released on Emerging Adult Issues
Justice Lab
Published on: 5/24/2021
“The Emerging Adult Justice Learning Community at the Columbia University Justice Lab released a series of three Key Elements Briefs examining specific practices and offering guidance on key elements important to consider in both the design and implementation of specialized courts, specialized probation, and specialized correctional units for emerging adults.”
Judicial Nominations Bring the Largely Missing Perspective of Public Defenders to the Bench
The Brennan Center
Published on: 5/21/2021
“Diversity of profession. Four of Biden’s first choices are former public defenders. It is imperative that a judiciary that handles criminal cases — federal, state, or local — consist of more than former prosecutors or corporate attorneys given a reward for past partisan service. Judges who have experience as defenders are judges who have seen the justice system from a perspective no corporate attorney has seen. They have experienced it in ways prosecutors cannot imagine. And that ultimately brings a desperately needed diversity of thought to judging.”
Black Mothers On The Lasting Impact Of Chicago’s Gun Violence
Published on: 5/20/2021
"NPR’s Reset talks to the author of the New York Times piece, 'Black Mothers Are the Real Experts on the Toll of Gun Violence', and to two of the Chicago mothers she interviewed for their solutions.”
Chicago Police Unveil Revised Search Warrant Policies
Published on: 5/19/2021
The CPD has announced changes to its search warrant policies effective May 28, but many say they don’t go far enough. Changes include more internal supervision of no-knock and “John Doe” warrants, the presence of higher-ranking officers at a search, “courteous” behavior, and – in a breathless declaration of the obvious – expanding the definition of “wrongful raids” to include those executed at the wrong address or predicated on false information.
Podcast: Should Intent Matter?
The Atlantic
Published on: 5/18/2021
“A widely criticized legal principle disproportionately puts youth of color and women behind bars. But is it the only way to hold police accountable when they kill?” That’s what some prosecutors claim about the felony murder rule.
Opinion: Prolonged solitary confinement is torture. It’s time for all states to ban it.
The Washington Post
Published on: 5/17/2021
“Earlier this month, New York enacted a law affirming what medical experts, human rights advocates and survivors have been saying for years: Prolonged solitary confinement is torture. With legislators’ passage of the Halt Solitary Confinement Act, New York became the first state to codify the United Nations’ Nelson Mandela rules, which ban the use of solitary confinement after 15 consecutive days. This is incredible progress for New York, but work cannot stop there. Banning torture in any one state is simply not enough. It’s barely a beginning.”

(The Halt Act also created an absolute ban on the use of solitary for children, emerging adults, and the mentally ill. Illinois has no such protections for children and other vulnerable populations.)
Defend the Public Defenders
The Atlantic
Published on: 5/14/2021
“Their ability to hold on to their job should not depend on the same people they challenge in court.

Working as a public defender can be like walking a tightrope. Attorneys are constitutionally required to provide effective representation to their clients, ethically required to do so as officers of the court, and subject to the ordinary human desire to keep their jobs. Other actors in the criminal process complicate the public defender’s ability to do each of these things. . . . . So who defends public defenders when they are faced with serious consequences for challenging the decisions of opposing actors, when those very actors oversee the public-defender institution?”
New vision? Or new prison?
The Illinois Times
Published on: 5/13/2021
“The Lincoln Developmental Center, first called the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children, had a sordid history before former Gov. George Ryan closed it in 2002. Founded in 1877, it was an institution for developmentally challenged children and became the largest employer in Logan County. Ryan was pressured to shut it down by those advocating for the developmentally disabled after abuse and neglect, including preventable deaths, were reported. The state now has plans to repurpose part of the abandoned facility and turn it into a youth detention center for up to 30 youth.”
Illinois parents arrested and jailed for kids missing school
Fox2Now and The Southern
Published on: 5/12/2021
“Parents in Harrisburg, Illinois are being arrested and prosecuted for their kids missing school. Parents have even been arrested and jailed” for what is a Class C misdemeanor offense.

Prosecutors in Saline County previously found themselves in the news for criminally prosecuting youth at the IYC Harrisburg facility for behavior typically handled through internal disciplinary measures in other IYC facilities. A lawsuit ensued. And the governor subsequently commuted the sentences of many of the affected youth.
Rethinking Justice for Emerging Adults – A Report
The Juvenile Law Center
Published on: 5/11/2021
“The criminal justice system is only beginning to acknowledge and respond to the distinctive developmental characteristics of emerging adulthood. As youth incarceration rates have steadily fallen, rates of justice involvement for young adults have barely budged, despite an overall decrease in crime rates across the country. Emerging adults disproportionately comprise those who are arrested and incarcerated across the country. And, in a criminal justice system rife with racism, available data suggests racial disparities are worst for this age group.”

The Report contains a snapshot of Illinois’ recent progress on page 27. Members of the JDRC can find an overview of Illinois’ quickly evolving body of developmentally-based sentencing case law for emerging adults in the Illinois Juvenile Defender Case Law Summaries.
Study: Body-Worn Camera Research Shows Drop In Police Use Of Force
Published on: 5/10/2021
“Now, in one of the latest studies about the equipment, a team of public safety experts and world economists say body-worn cameras are both beneficial and cost effective. They outline their reasoning in a research paper released recently by the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Council on Criminal Justice's Task Force on Policing. The report is an update of a variety of studies of body-worn cameras and it also compares the cost of the technology to the dollar value of the benefits that may come as a result.”

(Only 75 of the over 900 law enforcement agencies in Illinois currently employ body cameras. With the recent passage of the omnibus criminal justice bill, all Illinois law enforcement agencies will be required to have body cameras. Effective dates range between 2022 and 2025, depending on the size of the jurisdiction (50 ILCS 706/10-15))
School cops won’t return to CPS high schools this spring, district says
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 5/7/2021
“Uniformed Chicago police officers won’t return to patrolling the city’s public high schools for the rest of this academic year, Chicago Public Schools officials said.

The removal of school cops is temporary until the fall but is being welcomed as a good first step by students who for years have advocated for police-free schools. It comes as about one-third of CPS high school students returned for in-person learning this week for the first time since the pandemic began.”
Untreated traumas in arrested juveniles linger 15 years past incarceration, Northwestern study finds
The Chicago Tribune
Published on: 5/6/2021
“Research over the years has shown that the more often children are stopped by police officers, the more likely they are to report emotional trauma, and that police encounters with boys tend to increase crime instead of reducing it. The ongoing Northwestern Juvenile Project focuses on the mental health of delinquent juveniles, and newly released data examines what happens to youths who enter detention with psychiatric disorders.”
The Illinois Juvenile Justice System Faces COVID-19
The Chicago Maroon
Published on: 5/5/2021
"The pandemic has exacerbated systemic issues in Illinois’s juvenile justice system, ranging from the overuse of pretrial detention to the disruption of already struggling education programs. Meanwhile, it has also exposed juveniles to new challenges, including infection and isolation. Despite the hardship over the last year, some advocates are optimistic that the pandemic may have built momentum for reform."
No Child Is Born Bad
Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Published on: 5/4/2021
Last month, the Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth launched its ‘No Child Is Born Bad’ campaign. Over two decades ago the myth of the child “superpredator” emerged and drove harsh sentencing and transfer laws that survive to this day. And although the myth has since been debunked by research and repudiated by its creator, its legacy continues to inflict irreparable harm on Black youth, their families, and communities. Learn more about the campaign and how you can help.
Politics of fear: Are youth really to blame for the carjacking spike?
The Chicago Reader
Published on: 5/3/2021
“Cops say masked teens with a thirst for violence and joyrides are terrorizing the city. An examination of arrests reveals a narrative built on shoddy data and anecdotal evidence.”
Even When Marijuana Is Legal, Young People Are Locked Up for It
Truth Out
Published on: 4/30/2021
“As more states legalize recreational cannabis use, a large group is continuing to face marijuana-related criminalization: anyone under 21. Similar to alcohol laws, recreational adult-use cannabis laws permit anyone 21 and over to use cannabis recreationally. In practice, youth prohibition doesn’t prevent young people from using marijuana, but it does increase the policing and criminalization of Black, Brown and/or disabled young people.”

(Illinois prohibits the detention or imprisonment of status offenders, like youth caught with alcohol. With the legalization of marijuana in Illinois, possession of cannabis is now a status offense for Illinois youth, and they can't be placed in secure confinement for underage possession.)
The Supreme Court calls a halt to its progress on juvenile sentencing
The Washington Post
Published on: 4/29/2021
“It is a tragic fact that children sometimes commit murder. To compound that tragedy, it was, until relatively recently, possible for states to sentence such children to death or to mandate that they spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. Over the past decade and a half, the Supreme Court struck down those laws as the unconstitutional ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ they were.

On Thursday, however, the court stopped progressing on this moderate and humane road. By a vote of 6 to 3, the justices ruled that states are not obligated to make a legal finding that a juvenile defendant is ‘permanently incorrigible’ before imposing life without parole — even though common sense, and some of the court’s own past words, suggest that’s what locking a child up forever means.”
The history of police killing children in America
Published on: 4/28/2021
“According to a study by researchers at the Children’s National Hospital, Black children are six times more likely to be fatally shot by police than white children, and between 2003 and 2018, about 93 percent of the children killed were boys. The odds for the adult population are similar — a Black person in America is three times more likely to be killed by police than a white person. So do officers fail to recognize the distinction between an adult man and a boy when they fire a gun, or do they just not care?

One answer to this can be found in a study published in 2014, which showed that Black children are often perceived as older than their white counterparts of the same age. The study reported that police officers ‘overestimated the age of Black and Latino child crime suspects. White children, on the other hand, were not subjected to such overestimations.’”
Cavity Search: Sotomayor Speaks Up on Denied Cases
Courthouse News
Published on: 4/27/2021
“In a 6-page statement Monday, Sotomayor agreed that the case is not ripe for Supreme Court intervention as the issue needs input first from other courts. ‘It bears emphasis, however, that the degree of suspicion required for a search should be substantially informed by the availability of less intrusive alternatives,’ Sotomayor wrote. ‘This court does not lightly permit an entire category of warrantless, invasive searches when less offensive options exist. Particularly searches of those who have not been convicted of any crime.’”

(Strip searches aren't prohibited for children being held in Illinois detention centers.)
Illinois education officials order changes for special education students held in detention
Injustice Watch
Published on: 4/26/2021
“The state’s corrective action plan comes after two legal aid groups filed a complaint with ISBE back in November alleging that Chicago Public Schools ‘essentially halted’ special education services during the Covid-19 pandemic for students at Nancy B. Jefferson Alternative School inside the detention center.

The groups alleged that officials at Jefferson failed to provide proper instruction, therapeutic services, or a certified special education teacher for special education students, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Injustice Watch.”
If Biden approves loan forgiveness, what could it mean for law school debt?
American Bar Association Journal
Published on: 4/23/2021
"People with law school loans could benefit if President Joe Biden authorizes a plan to forgive all or a portion of student debt, but it could exclude those who owe private lenders and impose limits based on income, experts say."
Federal Bill To Address Disproportionate Punishment Of Black Girls In Schools
Published on: 4/22/2021
“Black girls are suspended six times more than white girls in schools across the U.S., according to 2018 government data. A new report from the National Women’s Law Center finds they are disciplined more harshly than their white peers for things like dress code violations and hairstyles.

Pressley’s bill would provide schools with a myriad of resources that include mental health, counseling and care programs as preventative measures against pushout in schools. The bill also calls for data gathering under the Civil Rights Data Collection, strengthens the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and establishes a federal task force to address the school pushout crisis, she says.”
Cook County chief judge launches committee to study use of solitary confinement against children
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 4/21/2021
"Chief Judge Timothy Evans launched the committee to examine the use of solitary confinement across the U.S. and as well as research on the trauma it inflicts on children ahead of potential changes to the practice at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. The panel will be chaired by Dr. Gene Griffin, a childhood trauma expert and former Cook County assistant public defender.”
Chicago Police To Create New Foot Pursuit Policy In Wake Of Adam Toledo Shooting
Published on: 4/20/2021
“In 2017, the Justice Department found that CPD officers engage in dangerous and unnecessary chases that 'too often' end with someone getting shot. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is urging Chicago Police to adopt a new foot pursuit policy after an officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo last week. Several U.S. cities have developed new policies in recent years, including Dallas, Texas, where CPD Supt. David Brown was formerly chief of police.”
A Novel Effort to See How Poverty Affects Young Brains
New York Times
Published on: 4/19/2021
New monthly payments in the pandemic relief package have the potential to lift millions of American children out of poverty. Some scientists believe the payments could change children’s lives even more fundamentally — via their brains.
Professional diversity is needed on the bench
The Hill
Published on: 4/16/2021
“We need more criminal defense attorneys on the bench. Theirs is an expertise to be respected and valued, never more so than when our country is finally starting to grapple with the human toll of overcriminalization, excessive policing and mass incarceration.”
Juvenile Defenders and School Superintendents Announce ‘Futures in the Balance’
National Juvenile Defender Center
Published on: 4/15/2021
“NJDC is pleased to announce the release of our new Futures in the Balance page, a joint project with AASA, the School Superintendents Association.
The page includes a whiteboard animation that introduces school superintendents and others to the negative consequences of juvenile court involvement and four new resources about why less court intervention leads to more success, myths and facts of juvenile court involvement, examples of how court involvement harms youth, and reforms that can keep youth in school.

We hope you find these new resources helpful in your work against school pushout and other efforts to reduce the number of youth referred to juvenile court.”
Marginalized Youth Need Real Change in Schools, Courts, Other Systems
The Juvenile Justice Exchange, Sharif D. El Mekki
Published on: 4/14/2021
“Are juvenile injustice centers not worthy of monitoring precisely because they are overflowing with Black, brown and poor throwaway human beings?” A friend of the author shared with him that “he doesn’t go to court expecting to get justice; he goes to expose the injustices that many Black children, in particular, often confront, including in their schools and in courtrooms. . . . We need more people like that lawyer. We need education and justice system professionals who love children, who are more concerned with nurturing our young than merely cashing a paycheck to do damage control among our troubled, yet promising, young people.”

(In Illinois, children held in youth prisons have access to an ombudsperson, but the same isn’t true for youth who are presumed innocent and held pre-trial in local detention centers.)
Standards, Oversight For Jailed Kids Need To Improve: Watchdog Report
Published on: 4/13/2021
“Gov. J.B. Pritzker last summer called for getting rid of Illinois’ five state-run juvenile facilities and instead focusing on community-based rehabilitation and treatment services. But the county-run pre-trial detention centers will remain, and a recent report from the John Howard Association says they need better oversight.

The report calls for the Office of the Independent Juvenile Justice Ombudsman, which oversees the five state-run juvenile prisons, to assume oversight of the county detention facilities as well. Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Director Heidi Mueller said the ombudsman office's oversight pushes the agency ‘in a good way.’"
Can Lawyers and Traumatized Clients Learn to Trust Each Other?
Published on: 4/12/2021
"By definition, a trauma-informed legal practice aims to reduce retraumatizing the client and to better advocate for clients by recognizing the role that trauma plays in shaping the lawyer-client relationship."
Prosecutors Should Add Sentencing Review Units to Their Offices
The Appeal
Published on: 4/9/2021
“Two-thirds of likely voters support legislation that allows for the re-examination of old sentences, and crime survivors overwhelmingly want to see rehabilitation prioritized over punishment.
By establishing sentencing review units (sometimes called resentencing units), prosecutors can actively review and recommend sentencing reductions and releases for those who were subject to the ‘tough-on-crime’ sentencing of yesterday. Such units are already in operation in Prince George’s County, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Los Angeles.”

Such units could provide fundamental fairness to Illinois youth who don’t have access to the state’s new parole statute.
I Survived 18 Years in Solitary Confinement
The New York Times
Published on: 4/8/2021
“The harrowing injustice I suffered as a boy should never happen to another child in this country. . . . Sadly, solitary confinement for juveniles is still permissible in many states. But we have the power to change that — to ensure that the harrowing injustice I suffered as a boy never happens to another child in America.”

Illinois is one of those states that doesn't have a court rule or statute banning the use of solitary confinement/“isolation” for youth.
Chicago asks its high schools to come up with alternatives to campus police
Chicago Chalkbeat
Published on: 4/7/2021
“Seeking alternatives to assigning police to campuses, Chicago is asking 55 high schools to draft safety plans based on restorative justice and crisis management. The school district has assigned newly appointed safety committees at each school to devise the plans then send them to local school councils for approval in June.”

On Wednesday, the school district offered the most detailed look yet at how it plans to reimagine school safety. Five community-based nonprofits will help train schools in student mental health, crisis de-escalation, and restorative practices such as peace circles. The district plans to spend an additional $24 million over three years on addressing student trauma and mental health.”
Cook County replaced its public defender. But she’s not done fighting yet.
Injustice Watch
Published on: 4/6/2021
"The fiery advocate who spent nearly 30 years in the public defender’s office, including the past six years at the helm, said she has considered the nonprofit sector or even putting her hat in the ring for a federal judgeship.

'I still feel like I have a lot of fight in me,' Campanelli told Injustice Watch in a wide-ranging exit interview on her second-to-last day on the job."
Top tips for lawyers who struggle with self-compassion to develop inner strength
ABA Journal
Published on: 4/5/2021
“The legal profession is defined by compassion. Lawyers are motivated to help others. . . . Most lawyers have witnessed or experienced injustice in their lives, and it is compassion that motivates us to right wrongs, rescue people victimized in some way and change the way society and culture operate for the better.

A significant percentage of lawyers face emotional and mental challenges because they are not trained to channel that compassion correctly. Lawyers are particularly susceptible to stress, anxiety, depression and burnout. . . . . The ones who suffer the most, ironically, lack the most fundamental compassion of all: compassion for themselves.”
Meet Cook County’s New Public Defender Sharone Mitchell Jr.
Published on: 4/2/2021
“After five years of leading the Illinois Justice Project, reform advocate Sharone Mitchell Jr. will serve as Cook County’s new public defender.” He discusses his new role and priorities with WBEZ.
Children Can Be On Their Own When Grilled by Police. The Push for Protection Is Growing.
The Appeal
Published on: 4/1/2021
“Miranda rights are often illusory for juveniles. Studies have shown that most young people waive their Miranda rights, and they don’t understand the rights read to them, such as the right to remain silent. (Studies of adults have come to similar conclusions.)”

“Few, if any, legal protections exist for minors during interrogations. In many states, law enforcement don’t have to ensure a child of any age consults with an attorney before an interrogation begins. But after high-profile exonerations of young people who falsely confessed, some states are taking action.”

Except for a handful of offenses, Illinois is one of those states that doesn’t require consultation with an attorney before a child can be interrogated.
NJDC Issues Report on Representing Youth During COVID
National Juvenile Defender Center
Published on: 3/31/2021
“The National Juvenile Defender Center is pleased to announce the release of Due Process in the Time of COVID: Defenders as First Responders in a Juvenile Court System Struggling with the COVID-19 Pandemic. We hope the report captures some of the many challenges our community has faced during this extraordinary time, and that you will find it useful in your advocacy to protect young people’s constitutional rights and to ensure you have the resources you need, both throughout the remainder of the pandemic and after.”
You’ve Been Lied to About Lying
The Atlantic
Published on: 3/30/2021
“Police thought that 17-year-old Marty Tankleff seemed too calm after finding his mother stabbed to death and his father mortally bludgeoned in the family’s Long Island home. Authorities didn’t believe his claims of innocence, and he spent 17 years in prison for the murders. Yet in another case, detectives thought that 16-year-old Jeffrey Deskovic seemed too distraught and too eager to help detectives after his high-school classmate was found strangled. He, too, was judged to be lying and served nearly 16 years for the crime.

One person was not upset enough. The other was too upset. How can such opposite feelings both be telltale clues of hidden guilt? They’re not.”
Lawndale Christian Legal Center Receives National Recognition For Criminal Justice Work On West Side
Block Club Chicago
Published on: 3/29/2021
“The legal aid clinic helped establish the state's first Restorative Justice Community Court, and the re-arrest rates for its clients are a fraction of the national average.

LCLC uses ‘a holistic model: not just legal services, but case management, outreach services and wraparound services to help our youth continue to be stabilized … once they’ve dealt with their legal issues to grow in other areas.’”
Illinois lawmakers disagree with state Supreme Court over bias training for judges
Injustice Watch
Published on: 3/26/2021
“A bill in the Illinois Senate would require judges in the state to attend more training about issues like trauma, racial bias, and cultural competency. . . . The Illinois Supreme Court, which oversees training for judges and other court personnel through the Illinois Judicial College, opposes the Judicial Quality Act.”
CPS Announces $24M Plan to Address Student Trauma, Mental Health
Published on: 3/25/2021
“Chicago Public Schools officials have announced a new $24 million plan to expand behavioral health services and address student trauma. The three-year initiative will be funded, in part, by the $1.8 billion CPS received in federal stimulus dollars.”
Professionals See Uptick In Teen Mental Health Issues Aggravated By Pandemic
Published on: 3/24/2021
“NPR's Michel Martin discusses teen mental health amid the pandemic with NPR's Anya Kamenetz, clincal psychologist and columnist Andrea Bonior, and high school counselor Melisa Hannon.”
Cost-benefit examination of pre-trial detention raises serious questions
The Appeal
Published on: 3/23/2021
“Nowadays, the primary justification for keeping accused people in jail is to prevent a future crime. Remember, though, that we are talking about people who have not been convicted. The government has no right to impose punishment before a conviction. It does not claim that pretrial detention is deserved. The legal rationale for detention is simply that its safety benefits outweigh the harm that it inflicts. The public good outweighs the individual cost.

So how dangerous must someone be for the benefit of detention to outweigh its costs? If we detain people who pose a 10 percent risk of committing a serious crime during the pretrial phase, we expect to avoid one serious crime for every 10 people we detain. Is it worth it? This question is extremely uncomfortable, but there is no getting around it.

(Given the long-term damage to youth from pre-trial detention, these conversations take on an added urgency, and the reformation of juvenile detention should follow quickly behind.)
Illinois Supreme Court Announces New Task Force to Review Court Fees
Illinois Supreme Court
Published on: 3/19/2021
“The Task Force will conduct a thorough review of the Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act (CTAA), including the statutory fees imposed or assessed on criminal defendants and civil litigants and the fiscal impact of the new civil and criminal fee schedules. Additionally, the Task Force will review any implementation issues and suggest legislative and/or rules changes as needed. The Task Force will submit a report and recommendations to the Supreme Court and General Assembly within one year.”

(Although fines are prohibited in Illinois delinquency cases, a variety of fees are applicable in juvenile court. And when those fees are imposed, then often resulting in crippling financial burdens that put added pressure on struggling youth and families.)
On the Anniversary of Gideon - Defend the Public Defenders
The Atlantic
Published on: 3/18/2021
“Their ability to hold on to their job should not depend on the same people they challenge in court. Working as a public defender can be like walking a tightrope. Attorneys are constitutionally required to provide effective representation to their clients, ethically required to do so as officers of the court, and subject to the ordinary human desire to keep their jobs. Other actors in the criminal process complicate the public defender’s ability to do each of these things.

It can be a vicious cycle, where a public defender is fighting a battle against the very entity that must provide that public defender with the resources and support it needs to do so. So who defends public defenders when they are faced with serious consequences for challenging the decisions of opposing actors, when those very actors oversee the public-defender institution?”
How My Arrest at Age 13 Changed the Shape of My Life
Tyrone Walker
Published on: 3/17/2021
“As a young Black kid growing up in Washington, D.C., I hoped to become a lawyer one day. I wanted to be like Perry Mason, a heroic figure protecting the falsely accused. I told my grandmother, who largely raised me, that this was my plan. But my first encounter with the criminal justice system pushed me in a different direction, along a path that ultimately stripped me of those dreams. Here’s how.”
How Trauma-Informed Care Can Prevent Youth Incarceration
Published on: 3/16/2021
The majority of youth involved in the juvenile court system have experienced trauma. Two activists and former court-involved youth share their own experiences, and and a pediatrician discusses the effects of trauma on children.
The Making of “Superpredators”
The Marshall Project
Published on: 3/15/2021
“The first edition of The Marshall Project’s new video series, designed for audiences inside and outside of prison, examines a toxic media myth that damaged a generation of Black youth.”
'Everything Has Been Criminalized,' Says Neil Gorsuch
Published on: 3/12/2021
“In 2019, the California Court of Appeal, 1st Appellate District, ruled that a police officer may always enter a suspect's home without a warrant if the officer is in pursuit of the suspect and has probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a misdemeanor. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court considered whether that ruling should be overturned.”
Six Years After Tamir Rice, Cleveland Makes New Rules About Policing Kids
The Marshall Project
Published on: 3/11/2021
“More than six years after Cleveland police fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice as he played with a toy gun in a park, sparking national outrage and calls for change, the city is poised to introduce a policy aimed at reshaping how officers interact with children.

Cleveland is the exception; most police departments do not offer clear guidelines about the use of force on youth, experts said.”
The Problem with the Felony Murder Rule
The Appeal
Published on: 3/10/2021
Simply put, “felony murder targets youth, women, and nonwhite people.” In Illinois, a felony murder state, a child as young as 13 can be convicted of felony murder and sentenced to decades in prison for a death they neither intended nor foresaw.

Felony murder is a legal theory rooted in the English common law, but scholars exploring the rule’s historic roots have begun to question the degree to which the felony murder rule was ever actually employed. “What is clear. . . is that the felony murder rule spread like wildfire in the United States as state legislatures codified the law in statutes defining homicide. Regardless, by 1957, England had abolished the felony murder rule. But it remains alive and well in the United States—an outlier among common law countries—with some version of the law in place in more than 40 states and at the federal level.”
Many Juvenile Jails Are Now Almost Entirely Filled With Young People of Color
The Marshall Project
Published on: 3/9/2021
“White youths were being released from juvenile detention centers at a far higher rate than their Black peers during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, and young people of color have since been detained for longer than they were before the crisis, according to data gathered by a leading children’s philanthropy.”
Amid reopening, Chicago moves ahead with school discipline overhaul
Chalkbeat Chicago
Published on: 3/8/2021
“By this fall, 55 Chicago high schools with school police officers will have a new accountability mechanism: school-level safety teams charged with developing a plan for safety without police.
The teams could put Chicago one step closer to ending its school police program. The issue has been controversial but overshadowed by the district’s efforts to reopen schools, a struggle that gained national attention.”
Legal Pot Doesn't Seem To Increase Teen Use or Addiction
Published on: 3/5/2021
“Opponents of marijuana legalization frequently warn that it will lead to rampant cannabis consumption by teenagers. But two studies published in November found that legalization has not been associated with increases in adolescent marijuana use or addiction. In fact, there is some evidence that both decline when pot prohibition is repealed for adults.”
Children should never be interrogated without a lawyer present. Here’s why
The Baltimore Sun
Published on: 3/4/2021
“The Central Park Five. The Englewood Four. The Harlem Park Three. Each case is a stain on the United States legal system, representing 12 teenagers convicted of crimes they did not commit, and 210 lost years behind bars. The convictions were all based on false confessions and false witness statements.”
Evidence-based paths toward criminal justice reform
The Hill
Published on: 3/3/2021
“Evidence-based criminal law reform — which draws on lessons learned from medicine and other disciplines — advocates policies driven by the results of research, rather than by anecdote or collective assumptions.” Three areas – prosecutorial discretion, participatory defense, and addressing the needs of small, rural communities – hold promise.
'Worth Being Forgiven': A Father And His Son's Killer Bring Past And Present Together
Published on: 3/2/2021
“In 1995, 14-year-old Tony Hicks got involved with a gang in Southern California. One night, as he and fellow gang members attempted to rob a pizza delivery driver, Tony shot and killed him. That driver was Tariq Khamisa, a 20-year-old student at San Diego State University.

Tony became the youngest person in California to be charged as an adult. He served the majority of his sentence in maximum security prisons before he was released in 2019. It was in the prison's visiting room where, a few years into his sentence, he first met Tariq's father, Azim Khamisa.”
Children in distress aren’t criminals. Stop handcuffing them.
Laura S. Abrams and Elizabeth S. Barnert
Published on: 3/1/2021
“As longtime researchers of juvenile justice (one of us is a social worker; the other a pediatrician), we know that the juvenile justice system is not the place to address the behavioral or health needs of young children. Yet in the United States, more than 100 years after the founding of the first juvenile courts, 28 states still have no minimum age for juvenile court jurisdiction. And 47 states have the power to forcibly arrest elementary-school-age children (those under 12) and do so regularly.”
No End In Sight: America’s Enduring Reliance on Life Imprisonment
The Sentencing Project
Published on: 2/26/2021
“Before America’s era of mass incarceration took hold in the early 1970s, the number of individuals in prison was less than 200,000. Today, it’s 1.4 million; and more than 200,000 people are serving life sentences – one out of every seven in prison. More people are sentenced to life in prison in America than there were people in prison serving any sentence in 1970.

The now commonplace use of life imprisonment contradicts research on effective public safety strategies, exacerbates already extreme racial injustices in the criminal justice system, and exemplifies the egregious consequences of mass incarceration.”

In keeping with sentencing practices in the rest of the world, a new report recommends maximum sentences of 20 years absent extraordinary circumstances – a mark far below Illinois’ current 40-year limit for children. Illinois' own Justice Neville echoes a similar recommendation in his dissent from denial of rehearing in People v. Lusby, 2020 IL 124046.
‘Tough on Crime’ Laws Lag Behind Citizens’ Perceptions of Justice
The Crime Report
Published on: 2/25/2021
“The average citizen might think that contemporary criminal law aligns with Americans’ conceptions of justice. However, several of the harsh punishments that have contributed to mass incarceration in the U.S. now ‘seriously conflict’ with what Americans consider fair and just, according to a forthcoming paper in the University of Illinois Law Review.”

Laws that are too harshly out of step with the public include trying youth in adult court, three-strikes laws, the insanity defense, and the felony murder rule.
How long is too long to wait for work to begin on a case?
St Louis Today
Published on: 2/24/2021
“A judge on Thursday said it was unconstitutional for Missouri to fail to provide lawyers for criminal defendants who can't afford them, leaving them on waiting lists for months or years.

‘Across the country states and municipalities failing to provide adequate resources to public defense systems have created an epidemic where the most vulnerable among us lack adequate legal representation to defend themselves against charges levied by the state,’ said Jason Williamson, deputy director of the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, in a statement Friday announcing the decision. ‘Missouri’s waiting lists are some of the most egregious examples of this and the court's decision today highlights the unconstitutionality of the practice.’”
Gov. Pritzker Signs New Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 2/23/2021
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a sweeping criminal justice bill into law Monday, moving Illinois closer to ending cash bail and requiring police officers to wear body cameras — arguing the package will lead to 'true safety, true fairness and true justice.'"
The black box of justice: How secret algorithms have changed policing
Fast Company
Published on: 2/22/2021
“Crime prevention efforts increasingly depend on data analysis about neighborhoods. But there’s a lot we don’t know—and vast opportunities for bias.”
Advocates push Illinois to reclassify drug charges, establish prison diversion programs
Daily Northwestern
Published on: 2/19/2021
“After a ‘defelonization’ bill failed to pass in the Illinois General Assembly, criminal justice reform advocates are pushing to reintroduce the proposal in 2021. On top of reclassifying low-level drug possession charges from felonies to misdemeanors, the defelonization bill would seek to divert people with substance use disorders from the criminal legal system.

A 2015 report released by the Northwestern Juvenile Project, which studies youth substance use after detention and into adulthood in Cook County, found that while White youth are more likely to have ‘hard drug’ use disorders, Black youth are more likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes.”
At 83 years of age, the country’s oldest juvenile lifer is released after 68 years
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Published on: 2/18/2021
Joe Ligon is believed to be the the oldest and longest-serving youth serving a life sentence in the U.S., having been imprisoned since 1953 at age 15.
Illinois Supreme Court offers rules for remote criminal hearings
Capitol News Illinois
Published on: 2/17/2021
“The state’s highest court issued new rules last week to help courts transition to remote hearings for criminal cases as the pandemic continues to disrupt court operations statewide. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Anne Burke said the order ‘provides guidance for our courts to address the backlog of criminal cases created by the COVID-19 pandemic,’ in a news release last week.”
3 Detectives Obtained a False Murder Confession. Was It One of Dozens?
New York Times
Published on: 2/16/2021
Another youth has been exonerated of murder based on a false confession. Yet again, the confession was rooted in deceptive practices by law enforcement, and was admitted at trial despite a recantation that occurred once the pressures of the interrogation room had dissipated. And, as with many exonerations, the victory was bittersweet. This time a 16-year-old boy spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

This latest exoneration occurred in New York, where – as in Illinois – it’s not illegal to lie to youth in order to obtain a confession. And where – as in Illinois – courts weigh law enforcement lies in determining the constitutionality of a child’s confession, but don’t prohibit the practice.
The Real Rosa Parks Story Is Better Than the Fairy Tale
Jeanne Theoharis
Published on: 2/12/2021
“Reckoning with the fact that Mrs. Parks spent the second half of her life fighting the racism of the North demonstrates that racism was not some regional anachronism but a national cancer.

Learning about the real Rosa Parks reveals how. . . criminal justice was key to her freedom dreams, how disruptive and persevering the movement, and where she would be standing today — an essential lesson young people, and indeed all Americans, need to understand to grapple honestly with this country’s history and see the road forward.”
Lightfoot says executive order will help people alleging police misconduct
Chicago Sun Times
Published on: 2/11/2021
“People alleging they are the victims of police misconduct could, in some cases, have an easier time obtaining video and documents from the Chicago Police Department, according to a new policy announced Friday night.

Under an executive order signed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, people who have filed complaints with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability can obtain that information without needing to file a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Planned central Illinois youth center will advance juvenile justice overhaul
Capitol News Illinois
Published on: 2/10/2021
“The Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is establishing an Illinois Youth Center in the city of Lincoln in Logan County. The facility will be part of the state’s ongoing effort to secure incarcerated juveniles in smaller dorm-like facilities based on community, rehabilitation and restorative justice, rather than only detention.
Around 40 percent of youths committed to IDJJ facilities come from central Illinois, yet there are no such facilities located there to contain them. The Lincoln facility will be the first.”
State Task Force Advocates For Greater Support For Children Of Jailed Parents
Published on: 2/9/2021
“One out of every 20 children in Illinois has had a parent in jail or prison, according to a new report released Wednesday from a task force that members hope will ease challenges those children face. According to the report from the Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents, the trauma children face from a jailed parent can affect not only their education, but also their mental and physical health.”
The police must see Black girls as the children they are
Rebecca Epstein & Toella Pliakas
Published on: 2/8/2021
We’ve all seen the recent news reports of a 9-year-old girl being pepper-sprayed by police for refusing to swing her feet into the back of a squad car. "'You’re acting like a child,’ the officers told her — to which she responded, ‘I am a child.’”

“For an officer to look at a 9-year-old girl and fail to see her as a child is, sadly, consistent with research, which has shown that adults view Black girls as young as age 5 as less innocent and more like adults than White girls of the same age, and needing less protection and nurturing. Scholars and researchers say the perspective is based in stereotypes of Black women as threatening and aggressive, which are projected onto Black girls.”
When Policing Youth, Honey Works Better Than Vinegar
The Crime Report
Published on: 2/5/2021
“These studies also reinforce what many of us recognize intuitively. Young people are highly impressionable, and experiences—both first- and second-hand—during our childhood and teenage years often harden and resonate well into adulthood. This means that law enforcement officers should assume that any contact with a young person will last a lifetime.

When this contact affirms perceptions that they won’t be treated fairly, that they will be subject to the use of force, or that they will be humiliated in front of their peers, these youths become more, not less, likely to commit crimes in the future.”
Charging teens as adults won’t stop carjackings. It will create tougher criminals.
Chicago Tribune
Published on: 2/4/2021
“The system doesn’t always work, but the alternative is worse. Research shows that youth who are sent to adult prisons are more likely to die by suicide while in jail. They experience more psychiatric problems than young people in juvenile facilities. And they are more likely to commit additional crimes once they are released.

It might seem like an easy fix to charge a kid as an adult and get him out of the way. But society pays for it in the long term.”
Rockford ‘Step-Up’ program aims at stopping juvenile crime and domestic violence
Published on: 2/3/2021
“The ‘Step-Up’ program takes kids between 12 and 17 years old with minor criminal offenses out of the justice system and puts them in a 21 week program.
That program helps cultivate better relationships with family members and teaches de-escalation tactics to keep situations from becoming violent.

However, for Rockford Family Peace Center Youth Services Manager Annie Hobson, the most important part of the program is that kids don't go through it alone.”
Do We Ask Too Much of Black Heroes?
Imani Perry
Published on: 2/2/2021
"Every year for a month, we celebrate the heroes of Black history. But these stories can obscure how change happens and who gets left behind."
More intensive supervision of youth on probation has NO EFFECT on recidivism
National Institute of Justice
Published on: 2/1/2021
A new study by the U. S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs compared intensive supervision of youth on probation with less supervision and found the additional surveillance-based supervision was no more effective. And was substantially more expensive to implement.

Conditions of intensive supervision vary by jurisdiction, but “generally include increased face-to-face contact with probation officers, drug/urinalysis testing, and participation in programming (such as tutoring, counseling, or job training).” This study can provide juvenile defenders with additional ammunition to combat unnecessarily lengthy and/or restrictive probation conditions.
Newark Officers Fired ‘Zero Shots’ in 2020, Reform Overhaul Cited
The Crime Report
Published on: 1/29/2021
Following reforms implemented as part of a federal consent decree, Newark, NJ police didn’t fire a single shot in 2020. Public safety increased. Advocates and legislators alike were surprised. “And the city didn’t pay a dime to settle any police brutality cases as the need was not there. This has never happened in the city’s modern history.”

The de-escalation reform methods and programs that helped Newark are now serving as the inspiration for reforms elsewhere in the country.
Public Defenders Suffer From the ‘Stress of Injustice’: Study
The Crime Report
Published on: 1/28/2021
“The ‘occupational stress’ suffered by those tasked to fulfill constitutional guarantees of the right to counsel regardless of the ability to pay is a too-often neglected consequence of the inequities of the justice system, the study argued. The authors of the study called it the ‘stress of injustice.’

They found three ‘major stressors’ of injustice that affected the emotional health of those practicing indigent defense just as definitively as the individuals they defended: penal excess, economic divestment and the criminalization of mental illness. A fourth more recent stressor was the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Incapable of Criminal Intent - Setting a Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility in Illinois
Loyola Chicago Civitas Child Law Center
Published on: 1/27/2021
Illinois’ lack of a minimum age at which children can be prosecuted in delinquency court disproportionately affects youth of color and is out of step with science, effective rehabilitation, international norms, and the practice in 22 other states.

The Legislation and Policy Clinic at Civitas Child Law Center, Loyola University Chicago School of Law has released a report with research-informed findings and recommendations for raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility for Illinois children to age 14. Click on the headline to read the report.
High court deadlocks on how to interpret juvenile sentencing statute
Published on: 1/26/2021
A split exists in the Illinois Appellate Court on whether a judge must explicitly find that the Department of Juvenile Justice is the least restrictive alternative before sentencing a youth to one of Illinois’ youth prisons. The First and Second Districts have held that such a finding is necessary. The Third District disagreed in In re J.M.A. The Illinois Supreme Court granted leave to appeal in J.M.A. to resolve the question. But with a recusal of one justice, an evenly divided court couldn’t reach a conclusion. The split in authority remains.
Racial Justice Toolkit available to juvenile defenders
Published on: 1/21/2021
The National Juvenile Defender Center and Georgetown Law Juvenile Justice Initiative have collaborated to create “Racial Justice for Youth: A Toolkit for Defenders.” The Toolkit “empowers juvenile defenders with the training, resources, and information to fight the over-policing, over-criminalization, and school exclusion of youth of color. Through the Toolkit, the creators hope to inspire juvenile defenders to view racial justice advocacy as an integral and essential component of their youth advocacy.

While many Toolkit resources are available without an account, Racial Justice Defenders who sign up can access actionable content for verified professionals including sample motions and more.”
Juvenile Diversion Shows ‘Positive Results’ as Jail Alternative
The Crime Report
Published on: 1/20/2021
"Programs which address behavioral health, addiction and trauma for juveniles caught up in the justice system yield positive reform results that surpass traditional methods of incarceration, according to a new Case Western Reserve University study.

While these results are not only promising on a behavioral side, the authors added that they yield cost-savings as well."
Advocates call for raising the minimum age of juvenile court
The National Juvenile Justice Network
Published on: 1/19/2021
“Did you know: Currently, over half the states (28 states) in the U.S. still have no minimum age of juvenile court jurisdiction?” Illinois is one of those states. “The U.S. is an outlier throughout the world in the practice of prosecuting young children in court; 14 is the most common minimum age of criminal responsibility internationally.”

The National Juvenile Justice Network has released its latest platform, "Raise the Minimum Age for Trying Children in Juvenile Court," calling “on all states to set a minimum age of prosecution of no lower than 14 in accordance with the standards set forth by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, 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
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
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
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
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: "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