Core Value: Fundamental Fairness

All system participants deserve fair treatment which provides due process and equal protection at every stage of the justice system. In a fair, rational and effective system, factors correlated with the disproportionate contact and incarceration of youth of color are identified and addressed.2

Youth must be treated fairly regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, geographic origin or economic status.

  • Illinois must maintain full, meaningful compliance with DMC Core Requirements of the JJDP Act.
  • Stakeholders must identify, implement and measure policy, practice and program efforts with demonstrated potential to reduce disproportionate contact of minority youth and families with the justice system.

Youth are entitled to due process of law at every stage of the justice system – from first contact with law enforcement to parole decisions and parole revocation hearings – and have meaningful access to zealous representation and advocacy to protect these rights.

  • State and local stakeholders should build capacity and partnerships with law enforcement with defenders, prosecutors and judges to ensure due process protections for all youth.
  • Programs and policies which ensure meaningful access to counsel can ensure due process protections for youth and can facilitate informed detention, sentencing and other decisions.

While legal decision-making is important, the tenor of interactions with youth and families in the justice system may have even more influence on compliance, outcomes and life-long views of authority and justice.

  • Policy and programs which allow, train and encourage practitioners (including law enforcement professionals, judges, probation officers and service providers) to engage in respectful, problem-solving-focused interactions can facilitate compliance with terms of station adjustments, court orders, probation terms and program rules more effectively than punitive approaches. (Tom Tyler; procedural justice research)
  • Programs and policies which rely upon use of positive incentives and appropriate, proportional sanctions (if necessary) can produce more meaningful, long-term behavior changes than sanctions-based approaches. (Latessa, et al; sanctions & incentives research)

Data is a powerful tool to ensure fundamental fairness and equitable treatment of all system participants. State and local systems must gather and share data on all facets of their juvenile justice systems – including the race and ethnicity of youth at all stages of those systems – to facilitate fair, equitable treatment of all youth, families and communities.

  • State and local systems should operate with transparency, including timely and full provision of data regarding the youth who enter, penetrate and exit those systems and the outcomes those youth achieve as a result of system involvement.
  • Policy, programming, practice and resource decisions should be driven by timely, accurate and complete data.

²The importance of fair and equitable policy and practice is clearly recognized in the DMC Core Requirement of the federal JJDP Act, which requires states to identify and address the factors giving rise to the disproportionate contact and confinement of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.