Seventeen year olds charged with felonies in Illinois are currently sent to the same criminal courts that deal with adults. A measure under consideration in Springfield would instead treat them as juveniles. Brian Mackey has more.
The idea behind the change is that 17-year-old brains are still developing. Lisa Jacobs is with the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.*
JACOBS: “We know a lot more than we did 10 to 15 years ago about the ways teenagers make decisions. It’s not good — they are developmentally immature.”
She says the latest brain science (pdf) suggests teenagers are more impulsive than adults and less able to weigh the consequences of their actions. In Illinois, 17 year olds charged with misdemeanors already go to juvenile court.
The change before lawmakers would bring 17-year-olds charged with non-violent felonies into the juvenile court system. That way, judges have more flexibility to help the offenders get their lives back on track. Kids who end up in adult court are much more likely to commit crimes in the future. Kids charged with more serious, violent crimes would still be sent to adult court.
— Brian Mackey
CORRECTION, April 1, 2013: An earlier version of this story misidentified Lisa Jacobs. (Return to the corrected sentence.)