New bill could raise age of teen offenders

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) – Illinois lawmakers are discussing legislation that looks to give juveniles a second chance.

HB 4581 was introduced by Rep. Laura Fine in February of 2018 which would eventually increase the age that teen offenders charged with misdemeanors are sent to court from 18 to 21. This would apply if the court decides that the case does not belong in juvenile court.

According to Betsy Clarke, President of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, juvenile judges can give other alternatives to teens and young people who have gotten into mischief like helping them get their G.E.D’s, job training, and placing them with a mentor.

Clarke says the overall goal is the ensure that punishments for these young people who have made past mistakes don’t define their futures.

"This age group receives a lot of second and third and fourth chances to make mistakes,” Clarke said. “We must invest in these young people. Otherwise, we will be paying - as taxpayers - for their lifelong incarceration."

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