The purpose and policy of the Juvenile Court Act under Illinois law is to promote a juvenile justice system focused on rehabilitation, not punishment. Prosecutors assigned to the Juvenile Bureau are dedicated to finding the best possible outcomes for all of the stakeholders; the victim, the community and the youthful offender.
The Juvenile Justice Bureau is guided by the philosophy that justice is measured not by how much punishment is meted out, rather, justice is served by repairing harm to the victim and community, and holding youths who come through the delinquency process accountable by addressing the harm caused by their conduct and devising responses that focus on the root causes of delinquent behavior while building competencies and skills that will support a safe and productive return to community.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to developing and supporting diversion and alternative prosecution programs for youthful offenders that address the underlying causes of delinquent behavior while avoiding bringing youth further into the justice system than they need to be.
The Juvenile Justice Bureau comprises two divisions: The Child Protection Division, which reviews and prosecutes cases in which children are alleged to be abused, neglected or dependent; and the Delinquency Division, which reviews and prosecutes offenses committed by juveniles.
The Victim Witness Unit has staff assigned to the Bureau to work with and support victims of juvenile crime. This unit also staffs the Victim Support Center at the Juvenile Court building on the near West Side.
The Child Protection Division screens, files and prosecutes civil cases in which minors under the age of 18 are alleged to be abused or neglected because of the action or inaction of the adults who are their parents or caretakers, or are dependent because they are without a parent or caretaker. In certain cases we may seek to terminate parental rights when it is in the best interests of the children.
The Delinquency Division screens, files and prosecutes crimes committed by youths 17 and under who commit misdemeanors, and as of January 1, 2013, all youth 17 and under for both felonies and misdemeanors.
In certain cases, we present evidence to demonstrate that a juvenile should be held accountable as an adult in the criminal courts. In addition to court-related responsibilities, the Bureau staff collaborates with other agencies and dedicates time and talent to build community-based partnerships. Following the principles of Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ), communities, victims and youthful offenders are essential stakeholders in the juvenile justice system.
Assistant State’s Attorneys participate in community partnership committees and in community events in order to inform the public, including youth, about juvenile justice matters. We strive to listen to the community and work with them to address issues involving youth, families and victims. Increasing community participation in alternative programs enhances community awareness of delinquent behavior and gives the community an opportunity to address it.