A year ago, one of America's great cities had become one of its deadliest as gun violence exploded in Chicago. By this time last year, 179 people had been shot to death. This year, the number is 117 – a drop of 35 percent.
State lawmakers voted Tuesday to create a top-level task force that would address truancy in Chicago elementary schools, a long-ignored problem that especially affects disadvantaged African-American youth and children with disabilities.
The number of youth who exit Illinois state detention centers and find themselves right back in one soon after has decreased in recent years. But the rate remains stubbornly high and is projected be above 40 percent in 2013.
There is a growing consensus among law enforcement that we need to be doing much more on the front end to prevent crime on the back end. That’s why my office has created a Children’s Justice Division to focus our efforts on truancy, child support, delinquency, and child abuse and neglect in a way traditional prosecution doesn’t.
We’re poised to bring Redeploy Illinois to our area but need the General Assembly to adopt the proposed expansion. With the expansion we can move forward with these proven strategies to reduce re-arrests, increase public safety and save taxpayer money.
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.