- Published: 22 August 2016
SPRINGFIELD — A key legislative initiative introduced by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), giving children in police custody for certain crimes would have greater protection when being interrogated by police under legislation was signed into law by the governor.
Senate Bill 2370, which passed in the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives with bipartisan support, requires that minors under 15 years of age who are charged with murder or sex offenses must be represented by counsel throughout the entire custodial interrogation. The bill allows public defenders or attorneys under contract with the county to have access to these minors under 15 years of age during custodial interrogations. SB 2370 requires a simplified version of Miranda warnings be given to minors under the age of 18. Finally, SB 2370 requires videotaping of all custodial interrogations of minors charged with misdemeanor sex offenses or any felony offense.
“I consider this a huge win for those who are underrepresented in this state. As this bill was signed today let us reflect on those lives who have been negatively impacted, prior to this legislative, specifically Trevon Yates ,” Van Pelt said
Trevon Yates, then 17 years old, was arrested in 2013, by St. Clair County deputies and questioned in connection with a robbery of a couple that was lured to a parking lot in Belleville, where they expected to meet someone who had advertised an iPhone for sale on Craigslist. A two-hour interrogation video shows the East St. Louis teen repeatedly professing his innocence, begging for his mother and praying to God, before being coerced into confession by sheriff’s detectives.
Yates, who has diminished cognitive ability, was charged with armed robbery and spent nine months in jail before the charges were eventually dismissed after additional evidence cleared him of any wrongdoing. He was later awarded a $900,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit alleging the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department violated his civil rights.
Previous law only required minors under 13 years of age who are charged with murder or sex offenses to be represented by counsel during custodial interrogations. The law is set to take effect January 1, 2017.