Juvenile Delinquency in the Twenty-First Century: Is Blended Sentencing the Middle-Road Solution for Violent Kids?
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This article will discuss the history of the juvenile justice system in America, from its English common law origin, through the Progressive Era of the late nineteenth century, to the 1998 revisions in Illinois. In Parts I and IV, the article will focus on current problems with the juvenile system in Illinois, highlighted in the context of a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision, In re G.O., a case in which a thirteen-year-old boy was adjudicated delinquent for first degree murder and sentenced to the Department of Corrections, without parole, until age twenty-one. In Part IV, it will point out the pendulum-like historical nature of juvenile law and argue that a balance must be struck between the purely punitive approach of common law England, and the optimistically nurturing approach that created the juvenile justice system in Illinois over one hundred years ago. This article will specifically address the question of whether it is time to remove the general ban on jury trials, as a matter of right, for juveniles charged with serious crimes. In Parts III and IV, the merits of extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution ("EJJP"), one of the most significant recent changes to the Juvenile Court Act, will be explained, and it will be argued that EJJP can, and should be utilized in nearly every violent and/or habitual juvenile situation.' It will be asserted that EJJP is indeed the middle-road solution that best serves both the rehabilitative needs of the juvenile, which the child savers were concerned about in the late nineteenth century, and the punitive reality of twenty-first century life. Furthermore, in Part IV this article will argue that the scenario of In re G.O. illustrates exactly the type of situation in which EJJP s most beneficial, and that it should have been utilized in In re G.O., had the new provision been in force when G.O. was charged.
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