The Commission identified four key research activities necessary to fulfill this legislative mandate:

  1. Legal Research & Analysis: Conducting research, information collection and analysis of Illinois law, emerging United States Supreme Court jurisprudence on juvenile issues, and law, policy and practice in other states. This analysis included examination of other jurisdictions' ages of juvenile jurisdiction, documented the benefits and challenges of various age cut offs and historical and recent efforts to extend juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds.
  2. Best Practices Research: Collecting and analyzing current research on adolescent development and "best practices" in intervening with youth in conflict with the law. This analysis focused on the developmental characteristics of youth, the range of interventions shown to be effective in reducing youth offending and the impact of trying youth as adults on both youth outcomes and public safety.
  3. Stakeholder Input: The Commission conducted outreach, interviews and small focus groups with juvenile justice practitioners in communities across the state. These discussions provided feedback and perspectives from police and sheriff's departments (including jail personnel), detention centers, prosecutors, defenders, probation departments, state corrections officials, and other justice system practitioners. Anonymous interviews explored the impact of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 17-year-old misdemeanants and the projected impact of raising the age to include 17-year-olds charged with felonies.
  4. Data Collection and Analysis: The Commission acquired and analyzed a significant body of data to study the impact of raising the age for misdemeanor offenses and to project the impact of raising the age for youth charged with felonies. Data was collected at all possible stages of the justice system, including arrest, pretrial and post-adjudication detention, delinquency petitions filed, adjudication of youth (findings of guilt), probation caseloads, and commitments to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

The Commission owes a great deal of thanks to several state agencies for their assistance in providing valuable data and perspectives about statewide trends. Current and historical statistics regarding 17-year-olds, younger and older comparison groups, caseloads, populations, and institutional capacities were provided by:

  • Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
  • Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
  • Illinois Department of Commerce Census 2010 Research Unit
  • Illinois Department of Corrections
  • Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
  • Juvenile Management Information System

Because county and municipal actors are largely responsible for public safety, diversion, rehabilitation, accountability, and adjudication programs for young offenders-regardless of whether they are treated as juveniles or adults-the Commission also sought input from local practitioners. The Commission invited opinions from practitioners located in 12 urban, suburban, and rural counties around the state, all of which frequently deal with juvenile justice issues.

Opinions and experiences were solicited from and received by:

  • Law enforcement (police department in the county's largest city; county sheriff's office);
  • Corrections and detention (county jail; juvenile detention); and
  • Court practitioners (adult and juvenile probation offices; adult and juvenile prosecutors; adult and juvenile public defenders).

These interviews illuminated each jurisdiction's practices, successes, and challenges in a way that numeric data could never express. The Commission sincerely thanks each responding entity for its public spirit and service to the State of Illinois.

Raising the Age of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction

The future of 17-year-olds in Illinois' justice system.

Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission