Illinois Legislature
12:56 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Ill. Measure Would Keep Some Teens Out Of Adult Court

Credit (via Wikimedia Commons/J. Pelkonen)

Illinois lawmakers are considering a change that would keep more teenagers out of adult court. The measure, which so far has had bipartisan support, would send 17-year-olds charged with non-violent felonies into the juvenile court system.

Since 2010, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors have been sent to juvenile court, while those charged with felonies are sent to adult court.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Democrat from Chicago, says getting more 17-year-olds in juvenile court has led to fewer of them being sent to prison.  Courts that focus on youths have more options to help troubled kids.  While kids sent to adult court are much more likely to commit crimes in the future.

"Thirty-nine states treat 17-year-olds as if they in fact are what they are -- juveniles -- and all the studies suggest that juveniles should be treated differently from adults because their brains and every other part of them operate differently as well," Currie said.

Supporters say Illinois is the only state that treats 17-year-olds differently based on whether they're charged with misdemeanors or felonies.