The recent statistics published by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council in its research briefing, "Illinois Felony Sentencing: A Retrospective," http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/Bulletins/Research_Brief_SPAC_Felony_Sentences_052011.pdf show how many individuals are becoming statistics in the criminal justice system.
The report found that despite reductions in reported Illinois crime from the early 1990s through 2008, the number of persons on probation, in prison and on mandatory supervised release doubled from 1985 to 1998. The researches found that felony drug arrests dramatically increased as did the number of felonies filed in court, the number of convicted felons sentenced to prison and the number of crimes that have been elevated from misdemeanors to felonies.
Although the report does not address the issue of representation, it is clear that persons facing felony charges need prepared, competent counsel to ensure that they are seen as individuals and to fight for their rights.The report found for persons with prior felony convictions, the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence has greatly increased. Given the trends in prosecution as well as sentencing, a person facing felony charges needs experienced counsel to ensure he is not a statistic.
In an effort to avert safety issues and limit use of force in dealing with mentally ill persons in crisis, in 2005 the Chicago Police Department developed Crisis Intervention Training. Based on a model developed by the Memphis Police Department in the 1990s, officers volunteer for the 40 hour specialized training which is conducted by mental health professionals, family and consumer advocates and police trainers.
The CIT program works with consumers of mental health services, the felony mental health court and family members to work together to develop treatment alternatives to incarceration.
From its inception, I have viewed this proactive, positive program. In my roles as prosecutor, agency director and private attorney, I have found the officers and program to be receptive to aiding consumers and to try to help them avert crisis.
One of the most pressing problems in the criminal justice system is how to end the recidivism cycle for those persons who are drug dependent and commit crimes. As Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, I was privileged to participate in the Governor's working group addressing prisoner re-entry issues.
The reopening of the Sheridan Correctional Center, with its wrap-around services within the correctional center and treatment upon inmate release, was the jewel of such programming.
During Sheridan's inception, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority provided not only funding but also real-time research data to help the correctional center be a model re-entry prison and adhere to its mission. The Authority recently published an update of Sheridan's progress at http://www.icjia.state.il.us/public/pdf/ProgEvalSummary/Program_Eval_Sheridan_Year6_072011.pdf.
At this time, I may advocate for individuals but I am proud that so many persons have been helped by Sheridan and have reintegrated into society so successfully.
On June 30, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court reiterated that juveniles charged with sex offenses are not entitled to a jury trial. In re Jonathon C.B. (Slip Opinion 107750), the Court ruled that although juveniles are guaranteed the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses, to remain silent and adequate notice, the right to a jury trial is not such a right.
Although juveniles have the right to a jury trial when tried under the extended juvenile jurisdiction, habitual juvenile offender or as a violent juvenile offender provisions, juveniles charged and found delinquent of sex offenses do not receive that option unless falling under the previousl categories.
This decision is significant because, as the court acknowledged, the confidentiality rules pertaining to juveniles have been amended to permit the general public access to information of those found guilty of first degree murder, attempt first degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault. Juveniles adjudicated delinquent of a criminal sexual offense must register under the Sex Offender Registration Act, potentially restricting the juveniles' movement, schooling and housing. The juvenile must also provide DNA samples for the Illinois State Police's database.