The chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission is recommending that 17-year-olds charged with felony offenses should be under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court system. After examining the impact of a 2010 law that places 17-year-olds in juvenile court for misdemeanor charges but in adult criminal court for felony charges the commission has issued a report recommending an end to the practice in the interest of fairness and public safety. The commission also cites the dwindling number of states that have similar laws.
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IJJC Chair, Retired Chief Circuit Judge George Timberlake says under the commission’s recommendation, 17-year-olds would remain eligible for transfer to adult court for serious offences. A new federal law is also a good reason for considering a change to the law, although Timberlake says it wasn’t taken into consideration when making the recommendations. The new federal Prison Rape Elimination Act requires all offenders under 18 to be housed separately from adults in all lockups, detention centers and prisons. Failure to do so would result in monetary penalties.