I am a social work student and registered voter writing to you to express the issues and concerns I have with Bill HB0591 which is to amend the Criminal Code Act of 2012 that primary impacts African-American minor offenders. I believe that implementing an alternative policy that refrains from arresting and confining individuals will give the same desired results. In May 2017 the Chicago Sun-Times wrote an article “Should 10-Year-Old Kids Be Kept In Juvenile Detention?” The story was pertaining to Justin Wright, confined in Illinois Juvenile Detention Center at the age of 11 years old and remained in the facility for two years.
Justin was not a hardcore criminal; he had school delinquency and broke into cars. Justin went into the detention facility as a frightened kid and returned to the community as a hardened criminal.
The words according to Justin, “his life would have been different. I would have avoided a life of crime.” This validates that detention centers have a negative effect on juveniles’ lives.
Minors that are affiliated with crime, and commit a crime of gang recruitment can be deeply affected from being confined to a detention center. I respectfully request that you consider speaking to Congress on behalf of an alternative approach to be provided for low-risk and high-risk offenders up to the age of twenty. This would pertain to individuals that have committed a felony of gang recruitment to be sentenced to a residential or non-residential community-based program. Gang recruitment can decrease which will allow positive outcomes that will manifest using the alternative approach.
The alternative approach will allow individuals to be rehabilitated in a positive manner and become productive citizens.
The racial disparity in the juvenile justice system is a violation of the individual’s civil rights. Discrimination occurs to every level within the system from the youth initial contact of arrest, diversion, detention, referrals for prosecution, petitions filed, arbitrations, probation and, secures confinement. These individuals are not treated the same as White minor offenders they are disproportionate to their counterpart. Results from the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission 2010 study on racial disparity in the justice system included the total population of youth in Illinois from age 10 to 16. The percentage of the population was 6% Other; 20% African –American; 23% Hispanic and 51% White. The arrest percentage of African American youths was 68% compared to 41% for White Youths. The percentage detained was 64% African American compared to 19% White youths.
The statistics calculated for this study was that minority youths are about 3 times as likely to be referred to court as arrested White youths. African-American youths that are adjudicated delinquent are nearly 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than adjudicated White youths. The adjudicated Hispanic youths are almost 2 times as likely to be confined as adjudicated white youths. The racial disparity in the Juvenile Justice system was indicated in the 2016 Illinois Juvenile Detention Data Report. It reported 10,042 individuals being admitted into the Illinois Detention centers. The admission percentages and headcount by race/ethnicity consisted of 8% (308) Other; 15% (1,547) Hispanic; 25% (2,541) White and 56% (5,574) African-American.
I sincerely hope that you would think about giving consideration to an alternative approach that will achieve the same results and not infringe on anyone’s civil liberty. The alternative approach will provide fair and equal treatment for individuals in the juvenile justice system; give each individual the help that is required to effectively rehabilitate them based on their needs; help the individuals allowing them to become productive citizens will decrease the rate of recidivism. There is a racial disparity in the incarceration of youth in juvenile detention centers which effects the youth of color. The majority of these youths are in confinement due to being disproportionately targeted by the criminal justice system. The justice system violates the targeted youth civil rights due to the courts, law enforcement and other persons connected to the juvenile system not giving them fair and equal treatment.
Minors committing the offense of gang recruitment will be sentenced to juvenile detention centers. The environment in the detention centers will have a negative psychological impact on minors that will affect their mental stability. This can affect the individuals aging into adulthood to not being productive citizens. The juvenile detention center can contribute to an individual’s having a hardened attitude towards others and life. The attitude learned or cultivated in the juvenile detention center and the lessened ability to find a job because of the individual’s criminal background offense has a high probability of the individual recidivating. Having a presence in the surrounding of a detention center can have a long-lasting effect on personal growth and development.