Treat all 17-year-old offenders as juveniles, Illinois Senate votes

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate Tuesday approved legislation that would send all 17-year-olds charged with a crime in Illinois first to juvenile courts.

The measure, which was approved by the House in April, now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk.

Currently, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors are handled in juvenile justice courts while 17-year-olds charged with felonies are prosecuted in adult criminal courts and sent to adult prisons if incarcerated.

Under the proposal approved 40-10 by the Illinois Senate, all 17-year-old offenders would be handled by the juvenile justice system, although juveniles who commit serious crimes still could later be transferred and tried as an adult.

Most states set 18 as the default age when criminal defendants will be treated as an adult. Illinois is one of only 12 states with a lower age.

Those voting in favor of the proposal included state Sens. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington; Gary Forby, D-Benton; Mike Jacobs, D-Moline; Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville; Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill; and Dale Righter, R-Mattoon.

Those voting against the measure included state Sens. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington; Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap; and Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet.

The measure is House Bill 2404.