Illinois Legislature gives juvenile offenders second chance

Last week the Illinois legislature overrode the governor’s veto of SB 121. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul, replaces a provision which had required juveniles convicted of a sex offense to register as adult sex offenders as soon as they turned 17. Under the new law juveniles may also petition to be removed from the juvenile registry if they demonstrate to a judge that they do not pose a risk to the community. This law recognizes that there are differences between adult and juvenile sex offenders and many juvenile sex offenders do not re-offend. Furthermore, it ensures juvenile offenders do not have their lives ruined by what may have been a youthful mistake or “Romeo and Juliet” situation. At the same time, it gives courts the discretion to protect society from violent offenders who do pose a threat by initially trying them as adults or by keeping their names on the juvenile offender registry. Only law enforcement organizations, schools and day cares have access to the juvenile registry in Illinois. [Chicago Daily Herald]