Illinois judges could be doing more to keep young criminals out of jail in the New Year. The Juvenile Justice Initiative is promoting a new law which requires judges to consider non-prison, community-based alternatives for non-violent juvenile offenders.
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The JJI’s president, Betsy Clarke, says up to 90 percent of juvenile offenders could qualify: “(Of) Commitments to the Department of Juvenile Justice, we know that half of those youth will be back in juvenile prison within three years,” she said. Clarke says a community program can put a teenager to work erasing graffiti or earning money to make restitution.