Transfer Reform Bill Passes Out of Senate Crim. Law Cmte

Transfer reform bill Senate Amendment #1 to House Bill 3718 passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee on a 10-1 on May 6, 2015.

In Illinois, children under age 18 (as young as 13) charged with certain felony offenses are automatically prosecuted in adult criminal court, as opposed to juvenile court. Within hours/days upon arrest and charge, the child is stuck in adult court without ever appearing before a juvenile court judge. 

More than 30 years’ of studies have consistently demonstrated this categorical treatment of children as adults prevents rehabilitation and positive development and fails to protect public safety. This practice has disproportionately impacted African American children, depriving them of their right to juvenile court as well.

Senate Amendment 1, which passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee today, allows a juvenile court judge to decide whether or not a child should be tried as an adult through an individual case review that takes into consideration various factors such as the child’s age, criminal history, degree of participation in the alleged offense, and mental and physical health. 

This Amendment:

  • Expands discretion of juvenile court judge to determine whether a child should be tried in adult or juvenile court through an individual hearing, considering the child’s age, degree of participation in the alleged offense, mental health etc.
  • does NOT prevent youth from being tried as an adult. Any child age 13 or older charged with any offense can be tried in adult court based on a review considering a range of factors including seriousness of the offense and background of the child, known as discretionary transfer;
  • does NOT eliminate automatic transfer for 16 & 17 year olds charged with a first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery with a firearm; and
  • Provides presumptive transfers for 15 – 17 year olds who had been found guilty or delinquent of forcible felony and newly charged with a forcible felony “in furtherance of criminal activity by an organized gang.”

With this Amendment, children under the age of 18, except for murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery with a firearm cases, go to juvenile court, and the juvenile court judge decides if they should stay in juvenile court or be transferred to adult court. 

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