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Juvey Bills Pending

Legislation to Encourage Early Treatment for Juveniles Among Several Juvenile Justice Bills Pending at Half-Way Point of General Assembly's Spring Session

The Illinois House has approved legislation aimed at encouraging early delivery of mental health treatment and other services to troubled juveniles.

House Bill 6129, now pending in the Senate, would protect arrested juveniles against incriminating themselves through any statements they make when discussing that crime in the course of a behavioral screening, assessment, evaluation, or treatment.

"It's no secret that many youth in our juvenile justice system suffer mental issues and other behavioral problems, but too often they aren't addressed until months after the initial arrest," said Betsy Clarke, president of the Juvenile Justice Initiative. "If they can be reached much earlier, there is a much better chance of changing behaviors and reducing the likelihood of repeated crimes. This legislation represents a small but important step in changing a system that now leaves too many youth afraid to talk openly and freely with the professionals who can connect the youth with the most appropriate treatment and services."

Rep. Will Burns, D-Chicago, is the sponsor of HB 6129, which passed the House by a vote of 93 to 17. Sen. William Delgado, D-Chicago, is the chief sponsor in the Senate. For a fact sheet with more details about the bill, go to

When the General Assembly returns from its spring break on Tuesday, April 13, the Senate will begin to consider HB 6129 and other reform legislation. Here is a summary of other pending legislation impacting the juvenile justice system:

Juvenile Parole Reform
House Bill 5914: Provides that the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission shall develop recommendations regarding due process protections for youth during release decision-making processes, including parole and parole revocation proceedings. The bill also clarifies that the Prisoner Review Board has options other than re-incarceration for juvenile parolees who may violate a condition of parole. Those options include releasing the youth to a group home or other residential facility and modifying the original conditions of parole. Rep. Annazette Collins, D-Chicago, is the sponsor in the House, which approved the bill by a vote of 81 to 32. Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, is the chief sponsor in the Senate.

Department of Juvenile Justice
House Bill 5007: Creates the Department of Juvenile Justice Mortality Review Team Act to review deaths of youth in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. The bill, which was introduced following suicides of two youth held in DJJ facilities, provides for a review similar to those conducted following any death of a child in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services. Rep. Art Turner, D-Chicago, is the sponsor in the House, which approved the bill by a vote of 106 to 1, and Sen. Terry Link, D-Lake Bluff, is the sponsor in the Senate.

House Bill 5913: Removes the requirement that the Department of Juvenile Justice share administrative services with the Department of Corrections and encourages collaboration with "child-serving agencies." Until July 2006, DJJ was a division within the Department of Corrections. In recognition of the need to treat juvenile offenders in a different manner than adults, DJJ was created as a separate agency, but it has retained some ties to DOC, which provides support services such as statistical record-keeping and varied administrative work. The bill passed the House by a vote of 94 to 1. Rep. Collins was the sponsor in the House, and Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, is the Senate sponsor. (Gov. Quinn's proposed budget includes a proposed merger of DJJ with DCFS.)

Raising the Juvenile Court Age
Senate Bill 3085: Provides that the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission shall study the impact of, develop timelines, and propose a funding structure to accommodate the expansion of the jurisdiction of the Illinois Juvenile Court to include youth age 17 under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. Provides that the Commission shall submit a report by December 31, 2011 to the General Assembly with recommendations on extending juvenile court jurisdiction to youth age 17 charged with felony offenses. Legislation passed last year when the state increased the age for misdemeanors included creation of a task force to conduct this study, but the recent revitalization of the Juvenile Justice Commission makes the commission an obvious choice to carry out the study and make recommendations. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 54 to 1 and is pending in the House. Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill in the Senate, and Rep. Burns is the House sponsor.

House Bill 4583 and Senate Bill 2513: Provide that a minor who distributes indecent visual depictions of another minor may be subject to a petition for adjudication and adjudged a minor in need of supervision. If found in need of supervision, the minor may be ordered to obtain counseling or other supportive services, or required to perform community service. Both bills passed by overwhelming majorities in the originating chamber and are now pending in the other chamber. The sponsors are Rep. Darlene J. Senger, R-Naperville, and Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago.


Comments welcome.


Posted on April 12, 2010

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