JJI’s Automatic Transfer Report Featured in Media Outlets

In April 2014, Juvenile Justice Initiative releases its special report Automatic Adult Prosecution of Children in Cook County, IL 2010-2012 which reviewed three years of data concerning youth automatically prosecuted as adults and documented effects of Illinois’ automatic transfer laws.

Report got a lot of media coverage:

“SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A 32-year-old Illinois law that requires juveniles accused of the most serious crimes to be charged as adults may be discriminatory, prevents judges from exercising their judgment and makes it more likely that those who are convicted will commit violent crimes in the future, according to a study released Tuesday.”

“A new study by the Juvenile Justice Initiative reviews three years of data for children under the age of 17 who were automatically tried as adults in Cook County, Illinois. Since 1982 juvenile court does not have to review the decision of whether a child will be convicted as an adult in Illinois. Regardless of background, mental or physical health, or any other factor, children aged 15 or 16 would automatically be tried as adults for certain offenses. Automatic adult prosecutions result in longer sentences and criminal records that hinder the child’s future education and job opportunities.”

“Out of 257 Cook County, Ill., cases between 2010 and 2012 where juveniles were charged as adults, one involved a white defendant, according to a study (PDF) released Tuesday by the Juvenile Justice Initiative. Eighty-three percent of the defendants were black, and most of the cases in the study were from Chicago’s west and south sides.”

“An independent advocacy non-profit has concluded that a piece of legislation dating to 1982 and dubbed the “automatic transfer law,” which compels children ages of 15 or 16 charged with certain felony offenses to be charged as an adult, has significantly problematic consequences that go beyond discouraging rehabilitation and positive development of those sentenced.”

“Only 13 percent of Illinois children charged with crimes between 2010-12 requiring an automatic transfer to adult court were charged with first-degree murder, a new report says.’Contrary to popular belief that “automatic” transfer is used only on the most serious cases, only 13 percent of automatic transfers were charged as first-degree murder during a recent three-year review,’ according to new study of juvenile detention in Cook County released on Tuesday by the Illinois-based Juvenile Justice Initiative.

“Illinois is in great need of juvenile transfer law reform. As then Senator Barack Obama insisted in January, 1998, “It doesn’t make sense for us to transfer, indiscriminately, young people to adult court.”

The Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), a SCY partner and evidence-informed politically active organization working to reform the juvenile justice system in favor of youth, released a study last Tuesday, April 22, that described major changes that are necessary in the system and why. JJI reviewed 257 Cook County cases from 2010 to 2012 involving juveniles who were charged automatically as adults in accordance with the state law. Only one of those cases involved a non-minority defendant, while 83% of the defendants were black and 16% were Hispanic.”

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