Most young adults who are serving long-term sentences can apply for parole in Illinois under a new law.
“The historic legislation will create a long-awaited and vital new parole system for youth facing long sentences,” said Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
The measure allows the granting of discretionary pa- role for people who commit- ted a crime before the age of 21, The Chicago Tribune reported April 3.
“Everybody deserves a second chance, but especially our youth. In the juvenile justice system, our youth often get their rights trod upon,” said former public defender Lindsay Parkhurst.
After 10 years, many youth offenders can petition the Illinois Prisoner Review Board for parole consideration. Victims, witnesses and others will be given the opportunity to testify to the parole board.
Those serving life sentences or convicted of predatory criminal assault on a child will not be eligible. Those convicted of first-degree murder or aggravated criminal sexual assault will be eligible for review after 20 years.
“I believe in redemption.
I believe in rehabilitation,” said Barbara Flynn Currie, the former state representative who sponsored the bill. The bill was the final piece of legislation to be passed in Currie’s 40 years as a lawmaker.
Pritzker has also created a Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative by power of an executive order.
The initiative will conduct research and advocate for more laws with a restorative justice model to make rehabilitation the priority over incarceration and punishment.