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Assessing the Quality of the Illinois Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) System Data on Juveniles

NCJ Number
Christine Westley; Erica Hughes
Date Published
January 2016
66 pages
This comprehensive statewide assessment of the Illinois Criminal History Record Information (CHRI) System focuses on juvenile (ages 10-17) arrest and court records during the year 2013, a time period that allows sufficient time for court cases to be resolved and reported to the system.
The intent of this assessment is to inform researchers and policymakers on the strengths and limitations of juvenile CHRI System data as a source of useful statistical information. Comparative methodologies were used to assess the utility of CHRI data for research purposes and identify areas for system improvement. Findings are presented by county and region to provide an overview of juvenile CHRI reporting practices. Overall, the assessment findings indicate that juvenile CHRI arrest records are representative of overall juvenile arrest activity in Cook County and its surrounding counties; however, CHRI juvenile data should be interpreted with caution when drawing conclusions about overall juvenile arrest activity in the central or southern regions of the State. The CHRI System provided little information on the outcome of these arrests, such as diversion from prosecution, delinquency petition filing decisions, and final court disposition. This report recommends that all mandated reporters of juvenile justice information, from law enforcement agencies to county State's attorneys offices and circuit court clerks, recognize the importance of compliance with State laws that govern CHRI reporting practices and resolve any policy or technical issues that bar full reporting compliance. At a practical level, compliance with CHRI reporting mandates facilitates the process of expunging juvenile records. In addition, policymakers should consider advocating for other statewide data collection mechanisms that are specifically designed to determine the prevalence of juvenile contact with police and outcomes of juvenile arrests. 19 tables, 4 figures, 5 references, and appended supplementary data