By: Carly Chocron
On July 20th, Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Public Act 99-0069, otherwise known as House Bill 2471. The bill creates the new statute 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105, “Sentencing of individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of an offense.” This statute eliminates mandatory sentences of natural life imprisonment for persons convicted of offenses committed before the age of 18. The bill requires a sentencing hearing that takes into account specified factors when determining the appropriate sentence. The hearing also allows for greater discretion when determining sentences of minors convicted of serious crimes.
Factors to be considered in mitigation in determining the appropriate sentence include: (1) the person’s age, impetuosity, and level of maturity, (2) whether the person was subjected to outside pressure, (3) the person’s family, home environment, educational and social background, (4) potential for rehabilitation, (5) the circumstances of the offense, (6) the person’s degree of participation and specific role in the offense, (7) whether the person was able to meaningful participate in his or her defense, (8) the person’s prior juvenile or criminal history, and (9) any other information the court finds relevant and reliable. Further, the bill grants judges greater discretion as to whether or not mandatory minimum prison terms, consecutive sentencing requirements, sentencing enhancements, or other sentencing requirements imposed on adults for the same offense apply. The crimes affected by this bill include aggravated kidnapping, certain criminal sexual assault crimes, terrorism, and certain crimes including mandatory firearm enhancements.
Many exonerees that Life After Innocence works with were under the age of 18 when charged and convicted. Therefore, mandatory transfers to adult court and mandatory sentences effected many of these exonerees and was likely to have influenced the way those cases were tried.