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Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Advancing Equity, Reducing Mandatory Minimums in Juvenile Justice System

Press Release - Friday, August 13, 2021

SPRINGFIELD — Governor JB Pritzker signed the Procedural Justice for Youth Act today, reforming the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice's operations and policies to advance equity, reduce mandatory minimums, and end the use of isolation and room confinement as punishment for youth.

"Our Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice is continuing its transformational work to build a system that nurtures our young people, supports their growth, and fosters a successful return to a welcoming community," said Governor JB Pritzker.  "I'm proud to sign the Procedural Justice for Youth Act into law to advance this critical mission as we leave the punitive models of the past behind and reimagine our juvenile justice system. I want to thank IDJJ Director Heidi Mueller for her leadership and the sponsoring lawmakers Sen. Connor and Rep. Slaughter for passing this vital legislation."

"Passing the Procedural Justice Act is a restorative justice policy that seeks to repair systemic harm by enhancing equity in sentencing for youth and eliminating the use of room confinement as a punitive measure," said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.  "This law equips IDJJ with more of the tools necessary to continue its plan to transform this system and reduce the harm of incarceration."

"We are grateful to Governor Pritzker for continuing to support IDJJ's 21st Century Transformation Model and helping move Illinois toward a juvenile justice system that is truly just," said Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Director Heidi Mueller. "By signing the Procedural Justice for Youth Act into law, Governor Pritzker is ensuring better equity in sentencing for young people, promoting procedural justice, and making sure more youth have opportunities to participate in the treatment, education, and programming that can help them turn their lives around."

"House Bill 3513 helps to bring our juvenile justice system into the 21st century by utilizing evidence-based practices for juveniles that are proven to provide better outcomes down the line," said State Senator John Connor (D-Lockport). "As best practices get updated, we need to update the law to reflect those changes."

"The Procedural Justice for Youth Act enhances procedural fairness for youth in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ), and helps the department improve its services and operations," said State Representative Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago). "This initiative is very important to IDJJ, as it continues to implement evidence-based programs and services."

House Bill 3513 enhances procedural justice by removing mandatory penalties that create longer sentences for younger teens than for older youth who commit the same offenses.  Youth labeled as Habitual Juvenile Offenders or Violent Offenders will no longer be committed until age 21, but instead will receive a proportionate extension to their stay at IDJJ. The bill also clarifies concurrent sentencing, so that calculating sentences is done uniformly for youth across the state.

In addition to promoting procedural justice in commitments of youth to IDJJ, House Bill 3513 also makes operational changes that allow IDJJ to align with national practice standards and the Department's mission. The bill prohibits IDJJ from using isolation or room confinement as a punishment in response to youth behavior, in line with the Department's consent decree and national standards for juvenile facilities.

The bill takes effect immediately.

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