juvenile justice

Trevon Yates interrogation
MacArthur Justice Center

How do you get a 17-year-old to confess to a crime he didn’t commit? Turns out it’s not that hard.

Chad Kainz

The state may still be far from a budget deal, but the General Assembly was able to pass several criminal justice reforms in the spring legislative session.

A group of volunteers are working to bring a skill to youth in the juvenile justice system that could give them an edge in the workforce.

Tinkerers and the technologically savvy have been using 3-D printing for years to make models, parts and just about anything. The printers rapidly manufacture items from a set of instructions. They typically render in plastic, but they can make things out of metal and other materials, too.

Doing Right By The Kids

Dec 1, 2014

This story first appeared in the June 2014 issue.

Special monitoring visits to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice recently found youth detainees mowing lawns and building shelves rather than attending educational courses. Monitors discovered youth being given medication with inadequate consent and living in rooms that were improperly maintained. Facilities were found to lack the proper staff to treat juvenile offenders with mental illnesses.

  Summer is a time lawmakers can work on legislation that didn't move anywhere during the General Assembly's spring session. One of those proposals would require schoolchildren be read their Miranda Rights.

It happens in schools across Illinois: one student pushes another in a hallway, or there's a full-fledged fight.

Often, police, based on- or off-campus will come break up the altercation. That means an official police report will be filed.


A new law will automatically clear certain arrest records for juveniles when they turn 18. It’s meant to keep arrests that did not result in criminal charges from following kids into adulthood.

The law applies only to arrests for lesser crimes — mostly non-violent. Sex offenses and top felonies will stay on the books, as will any arrest that resulted in formal criminal charges.

Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois Legislature adjourned its spring session having passed a new state budget and other key measures, but leaving some business undone. Here's a look at what passed and what didn't:  
Budget: A roughly $35.7 billion budget for 2015 keeps funding flat for schools and most state agencies. Majority Democrats acknowledged the budget is ``incomplete'' because it postpones tough votes about whether to slash spending or find new revenue until after November's election.  

The Illinois General Assembly is weighing the creation of a "juvenile ombudsman," an independent official who can keep an eye on the state's juvenile prisons.

The push for an ombudsman comes in the wake of a report that ranks Illinois' juvenile prisons among the worst in the country for sexual abuse.

If a 17-year-old were caught stealing an iPod in Illinois, he or she would likely end up in the juvenile justice system. However, if the same teenager were caught stealing the newest iPhone, he or she would land in adult court, be held with adult inmates and end up with a record that would follow him or her into adult life. Advocates argue that it is time to change that disparity in the system.

Jamey Dunn
WUIS/Illinois Issues

Just a few months ago, it looked as if the scandal surrounding the “Meritorious Good Time Push” prisoner-release program could cost Gov. Pat Quinn a win in the primary election. Under the program, exposed by the Associated Press in December, the Illinois Department of Corrections was awarding prisoners months of early release time for good behavior in the first few days of their sentences, thus returning some violent offenders to the streets after they spent just a few weeks behind bars.

Active juvenile caseloads, Illinois 1990-1998
"The Status of Juvenile Detention in Illinois, Annual Report 1998"

There's not much Kevin Lyons can say about spending on juvenile cases that pass through his office. Except this: "Somebody's got to stop the bleeding."