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Under-21LWOP Abolition Bill Advances! Illinois House Sends HB 1064 to Senate

MEDIA ALERT For more information: Alissa Rivera, Restore Justice On Thursday, April 22, the Illinois House advanced a measure to ban life without parole sentences for most people 20...


For more information:

Alissa Rivera, Restore Justice Illinois

On Thursday, April 22, the Illinois House advanced a measure to ban life without parole sentences for most people 20 and younger! The legislation, House Bill 1064, passed with bipartisan support. It now moves to the state Senate. 

Restore Justice applauds the bill’s sponsor, Representative Rita Mayfield, and chief co-sponsor, Representative Seth Lewis, for their leadership, their belief in second chances, and their championing of children and emerging adults. Children and youth are uniquely capable of change, and most states have abolished or stopped using sentences that condemn them to die in prison. 

In 1978, Illinois eliminated parole for release—regardless of a person’s age, or commitment to growth and rehabilitation. In 2019, Governor Pritzker signed the Youthful Parole Bill, Public Act 100-1182, into law, creating the first new parole opportunities in Illinois in more than 40 years. Then-Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, now a Restore Justice Board member, and then-Representative Lindsay Parkhurst sponsored the Youthful Parole Bill in the House, while Current Senate President Don Harmon led in the Senate. That legislation is one of the most significant accomplishments of the General Assembly and Governor’s Office. 

HB 1064 is a natural progression to create more parole opportunities for children and emerging adults. It aligns Illinois with science, court decisions, and international standards. The measure would bring Illinois into line with 25 other states and Washington, D.C. in abolishing juvenile life without parole. In six additional states, no children are currently serving life without parole sentences. The Illinois bill applies to young adults 20 and younger, as well.  

The Cook County State’s Attorney and Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation both support HB 1064. 

“No child should spend their life in prison. HB 1064 builds on recent legislation to ensure no children or emerging adults are sentenced to life without the possibility of rehabilitation or parole,” Restore Justice Policy Director Lindsey Hammond said. 

Also this week, the Illinois Senate unanimously approved SB 1976. Thank you to Senator Laura Fine for her leadership and sponsorship of this measure. SB 1976 would create a statewide point of contact for family members to call if they are turned away from or mistreated in Illinois Department of Corrections visiting rooms. This bill now moves to the House. Learn more

Here is what HB 1064 would do: 

  • Most children and emerging adults given long terms of incarceration would have the opportunity to go before the Prisoner Review Board after 10 years and would then be allowed to seek parole two more times—unless they’ve been convicted of one of a handful of crimes (exceptions outlined below).

  • Youth convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child would not be eligible for parole under this bill. 

  • Youth convicted of aggravated criminal sexual assault and most forms of first-degree murder would be eligible for parole after 20 years, and once more after another 10 years.

  • Youth with life sentences would be eligible for review after 40 years.