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Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie
Senator Don Harmon
Over the past decade, the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that youth must be treated differently from adults, declaring them “categorically less culpable” for their crimes and emphasizing that young people should have meaningful opportunities for release. Despite the Court’s direction, Illinois does not currently provide any mechanism for youth serving lengthy adult sentences to earn release.
HB 531 will create new parole opportunities for those under 21 coming into the system today with extreme sentences ahead of them—the first new opportunity for parole in this state since the practice was abolished in 1978. Individuals seeking review will have the right to an attorney and the Prisoner Review Board will be required to consider the hallmark features of youth and subsequent growth when making their determinations.
HB531 passed the Illinois Senate on May 31, 2017 with a vote of 36-17 and the Illinois House of Representatives on November 28, 2018 with a vote of 67 – 41. It now awaits the Governor’s action.