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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