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Three Years After Sweeping Reform, What’s Different in the Juvenile Justice System?

Dighton, Daniel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2002) Compiler. 21(1): 1-5.

Cook County is the only county in Illinois that reports that juvenile court petitions and adjudications have fallen dramatically since the mid-1990’s, as a result of balanced and restorative justice initiatives. It attributes the changes to collaborative efforts between the State’s attorney’s office, judges, probation officials, police, and public defenders which divert minors away from the courts and detention through alternative programs. Three sites received foundation grants in the amount of $2.5 million each, over 3 years, to encourage the collaborative planning. Such efforts include evening reporting centers that serve as an alternative to secure detention for certain offenders; victim-offender conferencing; victim impact panels; and a retail theft program that emphasizes the impact on the victim and informs the offender of the impact of his actions. Although the philosophy of balanced and restorative justice was adopted in Illinois, it was left to individual counties to implement and fund. Mandatory submission to the State Police of fingerprint cards for juveniles has not been successful under this reform; training will be instituted for police to clarify the mandate. It is reported that prosecution of juveniles under extended jurisdiction sentencing where the juvenile receives both a juvenile and an adult sentence (imposed only if the conditions of the juvenile sentence are not met) is rare. Police use of formal station adjustments (which must be documented in writing and the minor admits guilt) and informal station adjustments have not changed much despite a change in guidelines in the law. Cook County has found that the informal station adjustments have worked well and continue to do so. In conclusion, the reform provision of 1998 has not caused Illinois to radically alter its juvenile justice system, but has brought the various players together to create new solutions. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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