Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation limiting the transfer of certain juveniles into adult court.
The measure ends automatic adult court transfers for 15-year-olds. It also limits the transfer to adult court of 16- and 17-year-olds charged with first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault or aggravated battery with a firearm.
“The legislation ensures juveniles have their cases heard before a Juvenile Court judge who can consider mitigating factors such as background, mental capacity and culpability before deciding whether the case should be transferred to adult court,” The Associated Press reported.
“As a Juvenile Court judge, there are many more services we can provide in juvenile court,” said Associate Judge Ray Cavanaugh of 9th Judicial Circuit Court.
“When people are younger, it’s easier to modify their behavior. You might be able to change their home environment, might be able to change school environment. There’s a much higher likelihood of doing that in Juvenile Court than in the adult system.”
Rauner also signed legislation that will stop sending offenders to Juvenile Justice Department facilities for misdemeanor offenses.
The law will cut in half the number of juvenile offenders in the county who are sent automatically to adult court for lesser crimes, according to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who lobbied for the legislation.