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Introduction to the Illinois Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
S B Milner; B E Ferrara
Date Published
37 pages
The fundamental elements and operations of the Illinois criminal justice system are described for the benefit of local government officials (LGO's), and the role of LGO's as overseers of the local criminal justice system is discussed.
Criminal justice operations are more like links in a chain -- with the links being police, prosecution, courts, probation, corrections, and parole -- than a system. Police agencies are generally organized around government at municipal, township, county, and State levels. Prosecution, the second link in the chain, operates through a State's attorney in each county, who represents the people of the State in criminal proceedings in that county. The courts, the third link in the chain, consist of the circuit court, which has original jurisdiction for all matters except those specified for the State supreme court. The appellate court is the second tier, and it hears appeals arising from judgments in circuit courts. The State supreme court, the highest court in the State, exercises original jurisdiction in certain cases, hears appeals from circuit courts when substantial constitutional issues are involved, and receives appeals from appellate courts. Corrections, the fourth link in the chain, is organized, administered, and financed by several levels of government. Although probation and parole are classified under corrections, they are 'links' in the criminal justice chain in their own right, because each has a precise legal status before the courts. The LGO serves as manager of resources dispensed to the links of the criminal justice chain, and as such provides the means for balancing the resources for each link so as to ensure that the criminal justice chain is equally strong in all its links. A glossary of criminal justice terms is provided.