CHICAGO – To ensure that youth offenders are treated fairly and are rehabilitated during their incarceration, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, recently championed legislation that will overhaul Illinois’ treatment of youth offenders.
“As the former deputy director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, I know firsthand that many protocols for dealing with our young people are inadequate and in desperate need of reform,” said Slaughter. “Our young people are deserving of humane treatment and dignity while they serve their time, and I cannot rest until this is a reality.”
Slaughter’s House Bill 3513, which makes sweeping changes to the treatment of youth offenders in custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections, was recently signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The bill makes changes to Illinois’ treatment of youth offenders by prohibiting IDJJ from preventing family visits for incarcerated youth and providing life skill training classes for young people so they may make a smooth transition into adulthood. Additionally, the bill bans private youth correctional facilities and changes to sentencing guideline so that habitual and violent youth offenders receive a more uniform 12- month extension to their sentence instead of staying behind bars until they reach 21. This bill also bans the use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment.
“These kids may have made a mistake, but it will be an even bigger mistake to simply write them off when we know that the children are indeed our future.,” said Slaughter. “We must be a state that invests in its future, and we must create opportunities for these young offenders to become reformed citizens who are equipped to meaningfully to our society.”