Van Pelt Committee Springfield - Juvenile justice advocates applauded the advancement 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 old 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.

Van Pelt Law Enforcement

Chicago - The top priority this legislative sessionfor Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-5th Senate) has been law enforcement accountability. Van Pelt has introduced legislation that directly addresses the high profile issues within community policing.

Last Friday, Van Pelt and the Senate Executive Subcommittee on Police Professionalism met at the Bilandic Building in Chicago to hear testimony on Senate bills 2210, 2233 and 2370, all legislation the senator is sponsoring. Van Pelt represents some of Chicago’s most violence-stricken areas, in addition to some communities disproportionately affected by a lack of law enforcement accountability.

"Mistrust of law enforcement is plaguing our communities. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t get a complaint from my neighbors in the district," Van Pelt said shortly before the hearing started.

More information on Van Pelt’s legislation can be found below.

Senate Bill 2210: Establishes that videos and other materials or documents related to police misconduct are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, except when an exemption is approved by a judge

Senate Bill 2233: Prohibits destruction of all records related to complaints, investigations and adjudications of police misconduct and requires permanent retention of those records, applies to records currently in existence or created in the future, and expressly overrides any agreement or order to destroy these records

Senate Bill 2370: Requires that all minors be represented by counsel throughout custodial interrogations, and makes statements made by a minor during a custodial interrogation without counsel inadmissible in juvenile or adult court proceedings

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At the end of each year, we publish a list of new laws set to take effect on Jan. 1. While a great deal of the General Assembly’s focus in 2016 was on the ongoing Illinois budget stalemate and a stopgap budget to keep vital programs and services going, a variety of new laws regarding safety, ethics, criminal justice reform, and employment wages and benefits will become effective Jan. 1.

Here are our Top 10 New Illinois Laws for 2017.

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.

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