Illinois: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (2007)

From the inception of the world’s first juvenile court over 100 years ago, the State of Illinois has long led the way in the creation of a fair and equitable juvenile justice system for children. Illinois has historically been a place where new ideas and strategies that impact children and families have been born, tested and refined, restorative justice and detention reform among them. Jurisdictions across Illinois have frequently been selected as research and demonstration sites for a broad range of federal and foundation-based initiatives. The Children and Family Justice Center and the National Juvenile Defender Center hope that this assessment, the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken in Illinois, will raise the quality of legal representation for children by fostering an environment in which accused children are routinely represented by highly skilled, well-resourced, dedicated and effective children’s attorneys.

In the course of conducting this assessment, the investigative team encountered many devoted and talented lawyers who provide remarkable legal service in spite of the numerous obstacles that they face. But despite this work, the assessment team also concluded that the overall quality of the representation of children in Illinois falls well short of national standards.

The findings and recommendations embodied in this Assessment can be used as a tool to help to improve Illinois’ juvenile indigent defense system by eliminating some of the systemic barriers to effective representation that too many children’s defense attorneys face on a daily basis.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Assessment, Gault Center Publications, Resource Library
Tags: Access to Counsel, Quality of Representation, Youth Defense Systems