Study: Minority kids hit hardest by Illinois law

Study: Minority kids hit hardest by Illinois law by John O’connor

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A 32-year-old Illinois law that requires juveniles accused of the most serious crimes to be charged as adults may be discriminatory, prevents judges from exercising their judgment and makes it more likely that those who are convicted will commit violent crimes in the future, according to a study released Tuesday.

The nonpartisan Juvenile Justice Initiative reviewed 257 Cook County cases from 2010 to 2012 involving juveniles who were automatically charged as adults in accordance with the state law. One of those cases involved a non-minority defendant. Eighty-three percent of the defendants were black and 16 percent were Hispanic. Most came from Chicago’s west and south sides, according to the study.

It also found that 54 percent of the defendants whose cases were automatically transferred to adult court ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge that wouldn’t have triggered such a transfer in the first place.