New landmark reform law will give youth a chance to erase past mistakes and protect public safety

Landmark juvenile justice reform legislation signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner will clear roadblocks to success for tens of thousands of Illinoisans whose youthful mistakes have restricted access to education, jobs, and housing.

House Bill 3817 strengthens confidentiality protections against the sharing of juvenile records and expands the number of juvenile records eligible for automatic expungement. The new system of erasing past mistakes and protecting public safety is similar to an American Bar Association model statute and implements most of the recommendations of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s 2016 report “Burdened for Life: The Myth of Juvenile Record Confidentiality and Expungement in Illinois.”

“As one of the first juvenile justice systems in America, the Illinois system was built on the principle that mistakes made by children should not brand them for life,” said Paula Wolff, Director of the Illinois Justice Project. “However, confidentiality protections eroded over time, and a complicated and expensive expungement system has made record clearing uncommon, rather than the norm.”

ILJP news release HERE.

Fact sheet explaining HB 3817 HERE.  


New Website Explains Overrepresentation of Minority Youth in Chicago’s Juvenile Justice System

Open Source Data Can Be Downloaded for Deep Dive

 A new website, JusticeDivided.com, will increase public awareness of the overrepresentation of minority Chicago youth in the juvenile justice system and provide open source data for research by community members and journalists, eventually leading to changes in practices and policies.

The new website will call attention to the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system and provide factual and easy-to-access data from verified public data sources.

“The site is targeted to inform youth, provide them with tools to become engaged in policy reform efforts and provide resources to help them overcome the collateral consequences of having an arrest record,” said Era Laudermilk, Deputy Director of the Illinois Justice Project.  

Some visitors will be surprised to learn that black youth make up only 42 percent of Chicago’s youth population but account for 79 percent of arrests and 87 percent of imprisonments. 

“The website is intended to encourage a public discussion of inequity: for example, while black and white youth have the same rate of marijuana use, blacks are arrested far more often,” Laudermilk said. “The website also is a resource to spur discussion of how to develop and implement policies and practices to reduce disproportionate minority contact, as well as information to help kids in trouble stay out of trouble.” 

Read the news release HERE.


“Building a Safe Chicago” report: Attack root causes of violence with a comprehensive crime prevention plan

The Illinois Justice Project and nearly 50 other community groups and criminal justice reform advocates have issued a report urging Chicago’s elected leaders to reject reactionary and unproven crime fighting policies and instead attack the root causes of violence with a comprehensive crime prevention plan. 

“Building a Safe Chicago” argues against mandatory minimum prison sentencing schemes and in favor of a comprehensive plan that should include:

  • Expansion of community-based programs to improve social conditions that have led to increased demand for illegal weapon possession; 
  • Reduction in illegal handgun availability by regulating gun shop owners; 
  • Reduction in gun possession charges by identifying and addressing the causes of the repeat offenses; 
  • Enactment of the reforms advocated by Mayor Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force; and 
  • Economic development initiatives in high poverty neighborhoods. 

Read full report HERE

Summary HERE

News release HERE


THE ILLINOIS SUPREME COURT HAS ADOPTED (OCT. 6) A RULE EXPLICITLY PROHIBITING THE INDISCRIMINATE SHACKLING OF CHILDREN IN JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS.  THE RULE HAD BEEN REQUESTED BY A LARGE COALITION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE REFORM ADVOCATES AND JUSTICE ORGANIZATIONS -- INCLUDING THE ILLINOIS JUSTICE PROJECT.

MORE INFORMATION HERE.


THE COLLABORATIVE: EXAMINING THE USE OF JAILS AND DETENTION CENTERS

The Collaborative will meet Tuesday, October 4, at the Union League Club of Chicago.  To review the agenda, click here. 

SUBSCRIBE TO THE ILLINOIS JUSTICE PROJECT NEWS SUMMARY.  

To subscribe to the Illinois Justice Project News Summary, click here.

COLLABORATIVE ON REENTRY CONVENES CONFERENCE — WHAT ILLINOIS CAN DO TODAY TO REFORM ITS CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

To read the conference agenda, click here.

The Justice Coalition for Safety and Fairness recommends five specific actions to help the state reach the goal of a 25 percent reduction in Illinois’ prison population by 2025.  

To read the letter to the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, click here.

To complete the sign-on form in support of the letter, click here.

To read additional information and analysis of the recommendations, click here. 

“ILLINOIS STARTS TO REDEEM ITS REFORM-MINDED JUVENILE JUSTICE PAST”

To read this op-ed by IDJJ Director Candice Jones and Paula Wolff, Director of the Illinois Justice Project, click here.

ILJP TELLS STATE PANEL OF IMPORTANCE OF STRONG COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS AND EXPANSION OF REDEPLOY ILLINOIS

In testimony to the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, the ILJP stressed the importance of “community corrections” and the creation of “strong community capacity at the local level, building on the success of the Redeploy Illinois model—which has demonstrated the critical impact local communities can have on crime and rehabilitation when they have resources and assume responsibility for offender diversion.”  For our recommendations on how to do that, click here.

Op-Ed by Esther Franco-Payne Featured by Reboot Illinois

To learn more, click here.

2015 Criminal and Juvenile Justice Legislation

In the spring session, the Illinois General Assembly passed some significant reform legislation aimed at right-sizing the criminal justice system and expanding restorative justice opportunities to keep juveniles out of the system.  Click here to read more about some of the bills approved by the General Assembly.

CPS Announces Mid-Year Data: 60 Percent Fewer Out of School Suspensions So Far This Year, 69 Percent Reduction in Expulsions 

April 22, 2015

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reports a 60 percent reduction in suspensions and 69 percent reduction in expulsions across all grades in School Year 2014-2015 compared to the first semester of last school year. These results follow Student Code of Conduct revisions, which provide a more equitable approach to student discipline, promote positive learning climates and keep students engaged in school.

CPS news release here: http://cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_3_19_2015.aspx

Suspension and expulsion data can be found under “Metrics” on the CPS “School Data” section of the CPS website here: http://cps.edu/SchoolData/Pages/SchoolData.aspx

Commitment to Improvements in the Juvenile Justice System in Cook County

February 19, 2015

Today, a partnership of community groups and government leaders announce agreement on ten principles to improve the Cook County juvenile justice system with an emphasis on rehabilitation of young people and use of incarceration as a last resort.  

Visit our NEWS page to learn more about this important initiative.