Academic journal article Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

A More Just System of Juvenile Justice: Creating a New Standard of Accountability for Juveniles in Illinois

Academic journal article Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

A More Just System of Juvenile Justice: Creating a New Standard of Accountability for Juveniles in Illinois

Article excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION                                                        198 I. WHY THIS PROBLEM EXISTS                                          201       A. A Brief History of Juvenile Justice in the United States   201       B. Juveniles Are Different from Adults: A Scientific          203          Approach       C. Juveniles Are Different from Adults: The Supreme Court's   208       D. Accountability Law: Illinois's Approach                    211 II. ARGUING FOR A DIFFERENT JUVENILE STANDARD OF                    215     ACCOUNTABILITY CONCLUSION                                                          221 

INTRODUCTION

It is not a new or innovative concept to say that juveniles are different from adults in a legal sense or even in common sense. (2) William Blackstone, the architect of common law, built his theory of criminal justice upon the foundation that only two types of people were incapable of committing crimes--those that were insane and those that were considered "infants." (3) Though in the present day, an infant may be defined as someone who is a baby or a young child in the most basic stage of life, Blackstone's definition was far wider reaching. (4) Blackstone believed that "infants," a category of people not capable of committing crimes, encompassed all young people possessing a "defect of the understanding." (5) The United States internalized this concept and expounded upon it through its legal system, establishing a separate criminal justice system altogether for juveniles. (6) In 1899, Cook County in Illinois created the country's first juvenile court, catalyzing a trend that spread to almost every state in less than three decades. (7) With this movement to separate juvenile criminal justice from adult criminal justice came an understanding that juveniles deserved different treatment in criminal law than their adult counterparts. (8) As such, juvenile courts across America adopted rehabilitation as their primary purpose. (9) This goal diverged from the punitive goals that characterize the adult criminal justice system. (10)

This rehabilitative treatment of young offenders has remained a component of the juvenile criminal justice system. However, in recent years, the Supreme Court has made a substantial effort to expand upon this, carving out distinct protections for juveniles. (11) In the past ten years, the Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to subject juveniles to the death penalty, that juveniles deserve individualized consideration in life without parole sentences, and that a juvenile's age must be taken into consideration when analyzing Miranda waivers. (12) The Supreme Court has acknowledged, through these legal advancements, that a new body of psychological and physiological science has changed what we know about adolescents, the adolescent brain, and adolescent development--mainly that the brain is still developing in its adolescent years in many key areas that impact decisionmaking skills and foreseeability. (13)

While the Supreme Court has taken a multitude of steps to expand the rights and protections of juveniles, courts in the state of Illinois have taken similar steps to substantially develop and expand the State's law of accountability. (14) Though the Supreme Court's developments in the areas of juvenile law are reasonably viewed as progressive in their protection of juveniles, changes in Illinois accountability law are increasingly expansive and broaden the reach of accountability law. (15) In Illinois, accountability law is not a separate crime but rather a method courts use to prosecute individuals when the individual was not the primary actor but provided some semblance of assistance. (16) Juveniles have not been so lucky to escape the grasp of this extraordinarily powerful law and are prosecuted in an identical manner as their adult counterparts. (17) While the law has changed in many areas to adeptly recognize the new psychological and physiological findings about young people, accountability law in Illinois remains a substantial challenge to overcome for juvenile offenders. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.