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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

New Laws Will Lower Number Of Kids Behind Bars

Juvenile justice reformers say a trio of new laws signed by Governor Bruce Rauner will help lower the number of kids behind bars in Illinois.

“Each one relatively modest changes, but as a package they are going to have a profound impact,” Elizabeth Clarke, head of the Juvenile Justice Initiative, said.

The new laws ban sending children to state prison for misdemeanors and mandate that officials seek alternative placement before sending 10 to 12 year olds to jail while they await trial.

Another bill requires a judicial hearing before most juvenile cases can be transferred to adult court.  

Clarke says the transfer from juvenile to adult court has disproportionately hurt kids of color. Her group’s research shows that from 2010 to 2014 there were 580 youth transferred in Cook County.

Only four were white.