CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has called for an end to the practice of automatically transferring some juvenile offenders to the adult court system.
Illinois judges used to decide whether a young suspect was tried as an adult or a juvenile. Preckwinkle wants to undo a 1982 change in state law which makes transfers for some felony charges automatic – for example, in cases of rape or murder.
State law requires any teenager between 15 and 17 years old to be placed in the adult court system if he or she is charged with murder, rape, aggravated battery with a firearm, armed robbery with a firearm, or carjacking with a firearm. Even teens as young as 13 are automatically charged as adults in cases of murder, rape, or aggravated kidnapping.
Preckwinkle said there are harsh effects on juveniles when they are automatically transferred to the adult court system, without a review of the case by a judge.
“We’re sending young people to the adult system for lesser crimes than when judges made this crucial decision, and almost every single one of them is black or brown,” she said. “This is deeply disturbing.”