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Contact Information

The Juvenile Justice Initiative is a non-profit, non-partisan statewide advocacy organization working to transform the juvenile justice system in Illinois. We advocate to reducing the reliance on incarceration, to enhance fairness for all youth and to develop a comprehensive continuum of community-based resources throughout the state.

Primary Contact Name: Betsy Clark
Position: President and Founder
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
Phone: 847-864-1567
Twitter: @JJInitiative


  • Bill Number: SB 3085 - WIN!

    Type of Reform

    Study: Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission was tasked with studying the impact of, develop timelines for and propose a funding structure to accommodate the expansion of the juvenile court's jurisdiction to youth age 17 charged with felonies. Final report required by December 2011. 

    Year: 2010

  • Bill Number: SB 2275 - WIN!

    Type of Reform

    Transfer Reform: 17-year old misdemeanants no longer being filtered automatically into the adult system. They have access to the juvenile court. Public Act 95-1031

    Year: 2009


  • Bill Number: HB 3718 – WIN!

    Type of Reform

    Transfer Reform - Must be 16 to be automatically transferred (15 before); may only transfer 16- and 17-year-olds for a more serious group of crimes; requires demographic reporting of transferred youth; and enumerates criteria for transfer consideration

    Year: 2015

  • Bill Number: 2404 – WIN!

    Type of Reform

    Raise the Age Reform - returned 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies to juvenile court

    Year: 2013


  • 50 Years After Miranda: A Look at IL's Juvenile Justice System

    On the 50th anniversary of the Miranda warnings decision, legal scholars say Illinois is slowly making improvements to how young people's rights are being protected by the juvenile justice system.

  • Young Adults in Conflict with the Law: Opportunities and Diversion

    While in most states (including Illinois) young people are treated as adults by the justice system once they turn 18, research in recent years suggests that people ages 18 – 24 are not yet fully mature adults. The young adult brain is still developing, and young adults are in transition from adolescence to adulthood. Further, the ongoing development of their brains means they have a high capacity for reform and rehabilitation. Young adults are, neurologically and developmentally, closer to adolescents than they are to adults. Prosecuting and sentencing young adults in the adult criminal justice system deprives them of their chance to become productive members of society, leads to high recidivism rates, and high jail and prison populations, and increased costs to society through subsequent incarceration and unemployment.

  • Automatic Adult Prosecution of Children in Cook County, Illinois - 2010-2012

    This report from the Juvenile Justice Initiative looks at three years of data on 257 children under the age of 17, who were held in juvenile detention in Cook County but prosecuted and sentenced in adult court from 1/1/2010 – 12/31/2012.

  • Impact of Illinois’ Statutory Change Mandating the Least Restrictive Alternative Standard

    This report (2012) analyzes the ins and outs of H.B.83, which enact that judges must find that “Commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice is the least restrictive alternative based on evidence that efforts were made to locate less restrictive alternatives to secure confinement and the reasons why efforts were unsuccessful in locating a less restrictive alternative to secure confinement.”

  • Disproportionate Incarceration of Juvenile Drug Offenders in One State: Geographic Disparity in the “war on juvenile drug offenders” in Chicago

    The “War on Drugs” in the US has disproportionately impacted people of color in urban settings. This paper (2010) presents one example of this disproportionate impact, documenting the reliance on incarceration for juvenile drug offenders within the west side of the city of Chicago. Statistics on youth committed to juvenile prisons across the state of Illinois demonstrate the majority of juveniles incarcerated for drug offenses come from the city of Chicago, and zip code mapping of the Chicago area youth committed to juvenile prisons reveals the majority of juvenile drug commitments come from one area in the city on the west side. The paper further examines the disproportionate impact of incarceration on youth of color in Illinois.

  • Automatic Adult Prosecution of Children in Cook County, Illinois

    Automatic Adult Prosecution of Children in Cook County, Illinois (2014) specified by the Juvenile Justice Initiative, discusses the history of Illinois' laws as well as their current set as well as the methodology and findings behind each outcome. This refers to data on two types of transferring; judicial and direct. This information is accumulated over the past three years and using a population sample of 257 children under the age of 17 in Cook County, Illinois. In addition, this report discusses further discriminatory upon race and types of offenses that substantially determine their incarceration under the plea of guilty or not guilty in the court of law.

  • Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

    Illinois Justice Commission’s report Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction (2013) is a group that serves as the federally mandated State Advisory Group to the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Illinois Department of Human Services. In addition, the commission that raises concern about the futures of youths that are put into the criminal justice system at such young ages. This report mentions the legislation signed in 2009 (Public Act 095-1031), which provided that 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors would move from adult to juvenile court jurisdiction effective January 1, 2010.