The Illinois legislature on Thursday passed "point-of-sentencing" legislation involving youth who are who are transferred into adult court.
According to the Restore Justice Illinois organization, a proponent of the measure, the legislation "eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for youth under 18 at the time of the offense and requires judges to consider specific age-related factors in mitigation at the time of sentencing."
The legislation -- introduced by state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) in the House, HB2471, and state Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) in the Senate, SB1830 -- would also give courts greater discretion in determining sentences for those under the age of 18. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate. In the House, the vote was 66-45.
Jobi Cates, founder and president of Restore Justice Illinois, issued the following statement in response to the legislation's passage:
We applaud the Illinois House and Senate for coming together to pass legislation that acknowledges the fundamental developmental differences between children and adults. Today's legislative action affirms what many parents know to be true: children can make terrible decisions, but they are also capable of incredible growth and change, even in the direst circumstances.
We especially want to recognize Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, President Pro Temp Don Harmon, Assistant Minority Leader Ed Sullivan, State Rep. Ron Sandack, State Rep. Scott Drury, State Sen. Kwame Raoul, and Matt Jones, associate director of the State's Attorneys' Appellate Prosecutor Office, whose hard work and dedication to this cause were essential to passing this bill.
This bill is an important first step toward addressing the significant issues faced by children who enter the adult criminal justice system in Illinois. The Illinois General Assembly should be applauded for balancing need for public safety, justice for victims and their families, and confidence in the ability of youth grow beyond their worst act.