Legislation now before the Illinois House of Representatives would give state judges the authority to determine whether or not to try juveniles as adults. Current Illinois laws allow prosecutors to automatically transfer juveniles, suspected of committing serious crimes, to adult court to face criminal charges. The ACLU of Illinois consistently maintains that trying youth in adult court has significant negative effects on public safety. The Daily Journal’s opinion piece by John Maki, of the John Howard Association, points out that the decision to charge a seventeen year old, accused of committing a violent crime, as an adult should be decided in court by a judge considering all the details of the case, rather than in the private offices of prosecutors. Maki sites studies which reveal racial disparities that stem from prosecutors’ application of automatic transfers. He argues that Illinois laws should be amended to give youth offenders the opportunity to:

“[...]tell their story before a judge, who can then weigh the need to protect public safety alongside relevant facts about their lives and then determine whether it's appropriate to try them as a juvenile or an adult.”

Read the entire article via The Kankakee Daily Journal.