Rauner signs juvenile justice reforms into law

Rauner signs juvenile justice reforms into law

The governor signed two bills designed to improve outcomes for Illinois youth who become involved with the criminal justice system.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a series of bills the week of Aug. 21 aimed at increasing opportunities and reducing recidivism among adult ex-offenders.

But on Aug. 23, Rauner also signed two juvenile-justice-reform bills that will help ensure fewer Illinoisans become trapped in a cycle of incarceration in the first place.

First, House Bill 6291 reduces mandatory minimum lengths of probation for certain crime classifications and increases drug-treatment opportunities for juvenile offenders.

Rauner also signed House Bill 5017, which allows juvenile offenders charged with an offense dismissed by the court to immediately petition for expungement of their records. This means a young Illinoisan arrested but not convicted of a crime can more quickly get on with his life without the weight of a criminal record. Previously, Illinois law only allowed for a youth to petition for expungement once he or she turned 18.

Encouraging rehabilitation over incarceration can make a serious difference in the lives of young Illinoisans who have made poor choices.

Researchers at MIT and Brown found that incarcerating minors makes them much less likely to complete high school, and much more likely to be incarcerated as adults.

This isn’t the first time Rauner has tackled problems within Illinois’ juvenile justice system.

In 2015, the governor signed HB 3718 into law, which stopped automatic transfers to adult court for juveniles under the age of 15, and restricted transfers for juveniles ages 16 and 17 to cases of only the most serious crimes.

Both HB 6291 and HB 5017 will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.

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