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New law could mean parole for young offenders with lengthy sentences

A significant change is coming to Illinois criminal justice on June 1. That’s when most young adults who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms will start to become eligible for a parole review after they have spent 10 years behind bars.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed the measure that will soon take effect. "This historic legislation will create a long-awaited and vital new parole system for youth facing long sentences," he said at a bill-signing event in Chicago’s West Side Lawndale neighborhood.

The new law will enable people who committed a crime before they turned 21 to petition the state’s Prisoner Review Board for parole. The petitions will be assessed individually, an article in the Chicago Herald & Review stated.

Those who are convicted of predatory criminal assault of a child and those who are sentenced to life in prison will not be eligible for parole under the new law. Also, those who are convicted of first-degree homicide or aggravated criminal sexual assault will only be eligible for parole review after they have served 20 years.

The law puts back in place the authority to grant discretionary parole; a practice that was abolished 41 years ago.

Said Pritzker, "We're taking an important step here today, but we all know that real work remains to bring about reform that this state truly deserves.” He was elected last year, in part, on his prison reform promise.

The law’s supporters say it reflects research showing that young people lack the decision-making capabilities of adults because their brains are not yet fully developed.

There are a number of ways to obtain post-conviction relief. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to discuss the options.

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Darryl A. Goldberg
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