HB 1064: Abolish Juvenile Life Without Parole

House Sponsor

Representative Rita Mayfield

We need to abolish juvenile life without parole sentences in Illinois!

When imposing a sentence of life without parole (LWOP), a judge decides the youth is beyond rehabilitation. Consider the following.

  • SCIENCE: Both scientific and actuarial studies have proven the brain continues developing until a person is around 25 years old.
  • SCOTUS: The US Supreme Court has repeatedly emphasized that children are “categorically less culpable” than adults and are more capable of rehabilitation.
  • ILLINOIS COURTS: Illinois courts have affirmed SCOTUS in recent cases and now face the difficult task of untangling decades of excessive sentencing.
  • We have found no research that demonstrates juvenile life without parole sentences (JLWOP) have a deterrent effect.
  • INTERNATIONAL LAW: The practice of sentencing children to LWOP violates Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • Research shows a recidivism rate of just 1.14% among people sentenced to JLWOP and then subsequently released. 

We can build on recent legislative progress in Illinois to align our state with new norms, court decisions, and international standards.

HB 1064 would prohibit LWOP sentences for most youth who were under the age of 21 when their crime was committed. Juveniles could still serve life in prison. This bill simply ensures they have a limited opportunity to be considered for parole. The legislation would not be retroactive.

Bill Status

A version of the bill was introduced in the House on February 16, 2021.


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