SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago 5th) and juvenile justice advocates applauded the passing of one piece of legislation Van Pelt is sponsoring to reform the juvenile justice system, requiring minors to be represented by a counsel when being interrogated for murder.
“According to Juvenile Justice Initiative, ninety-six percent of 14 year olds do not have an adequate understanding of the consequences of waiving their rights. In addition, since Chicago holds the dubious title of false confession capital of the nation, I believe we have a duty to address this inequity through state statutes,” Van Pelt said.
Current law requires minors under 13 years of age who are charged with murder or sex offenses to be represented by counsel during custodial interrogations. Senate Bill 2370, as amended, requires that minors between 13 years of age and 18 years of age charged with murder must be represented by counsel throughout the entire custodial interrogation. The bill allows a public defender to represent and have access to those minors during custodial interrogations. Finally, the bill provides that statements made by minors without counsel present during custodial interrogations under these circumstances are inadmissible as evidence in juvenile or criminal proceedings.