New laws may be established soon impacting minors in the state of Illinois. Parents, lawyers and juveniles themselves need to stay aware of the changes, for they affect the trial of minors as well as the incarceration of a minor if found guilty of certain crimes.
One such proposal that is pending and may become law is PA 99-69, which seeks to make it the law that it would be unconstitutional to sentence a minor, a person under age 18, to a sentence of natural life without parole. The motivation behind the proposal is that such an extreme sentence toward a minor would violate the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
Another proposed law, House Bill 3718, would grant a court the discretion to determine whether a juvenile should be tried in adult court for 15, 16 and 17 year olds. The law terminates automatic transfers of such minors in certain cases.
Two other important proposals will impact the detention and incarceration of minors. Specifically, House Bill 2567 will prohibit a child under age 13 from being sent to a detention facility until after a local youth service provider was contacted first to house the child and is unable to do so. The other, Senate Bill 1560, seeks to stop the incarceration of minors who have committed misdemeanors and also requires limits for juvenile parole. The bill seeks to alleviate the incarceration of minors as much as possible.
These proposed laws, should they pass and be signed by the Illinois Governor, will all become law starting January 1, 2016. In such cases, this will impact the defense given by attorneys of their juvenile clients and give more powers to fight to keep the juveniles out of adult courtrooms and away from formal detention as much as possible. Minors will have more safeguards to help keep their youth safe.