Across the United States, officials and politicians are calling for reform to juvenile justice systems. Recent studies have shown that juveniles would most likely benefit more from rehabilitation rather than incarceration. In the state of Illinois, politicians and criminal justice reformers are making a push for changes to help with juvenile crimes. They want the state to raise the age of juvenile court eligibility.
Currently in Illinois, the maximum age for juvenile court eligibility is set at 18. The push from reformers is to raise that age to 20 years old. Advocates of this change say that this would correlate with new research, indicating that young people do not reach cognitive maturity until at least 22 years of age.
One senator said that she has two kids who are ages 19 and 22, and their brains are not fully developed. The senator argued that, in Illinois, a person is not allowed to buy cigarettes or alcohol until age 21, so why should a person be convicted as an adult when the individual is 18? The lawmaker will be part of an upcoming conference along with juvenile court officials from European countries who have seen significant progress from raising the age of juvenile convictions.
Many feel that juvenile justice reform like this is sorely needed and long overdue in the United States. One bad decision can result in a criminal charge and could potentially ruin a young person’s life. It is important to remember that those who have been charged with juvenile crimes always have the right to seek legal representation. Much-needed guidance and protection of personal rights can be obtained by consulting a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.