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Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1998: Balanced and Restorative Justice in Illinois

NCJ Number
Compiler Volume: 18 Issue: 3 Dated: Winter 1999 Pages: 1,9-15,20
Catherine M. Ryan; Dallas Ingemunson; Amy Maher; Betsy Clarke
Date Published
9 pages
Four juvenile justice professionals offer their perspectives on Illinois' Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 1998, which contains a purpose and policy section that adopts a balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) model for the State's juvenile justice system.
A representative of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office indicates that her office believes that the BARJ model has great advantage over traditional models of juvenile justice, which focus almost exclusively on either treatment or punishment. The strength of the BARJ model, according to this representative, is that it involves a community-oriented response to juvenile crime that gives primary emphasis to restoring the well-being of the victim and repairing the harms caused to the community. The Chairman of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission believes the BARJ approach will be good for the juvenile justice system by allowing victims greater participation in the outcome of their cases and providing an opportunity for juvenile offenders to better understand the impact of their actions on victims and the community. The Assistant State's Attorney in the Juvenile Division of the Madison County State's Attorney's Office envisions that the BARJ model will both instill a sense of responsibility in juvenile offenders and their families while increasing the involvement of victims in the resolution of their cases. A member of the Juvenile Justice Council of the Cook County Public Defender's Office notes that restorative justice will be successful only if there are sufficient resources to divert youths from the juvenile justice system through competency development. Specific issues addressed by the four juvenile justice professionals are the new language used under the BARJ model, the implications of the more extensive reporting and record-keeping at various stages of the juvenile justice system, the sentencing options that blend a juvenile sentence with an adult sentence, the transfer of juveniles to adult criminal court, and the use of county juvenile justice councils to advise county boards on the status of juvenile delinquency prevention programs available in a jurisdiction.