Viewpoint | Fining kids by the Illinois criminal justice system needs to end

These costs have nothing to do with creating accountability or achieving victim restitution.
by Officer Dave Franco (Ret.)
Chicago Police Department
From my perspective, after 31 years in law enforcement and now as an adjunct professor teaching Juvenile Justice Administration at Wright College in Chicago, failure is when people involved in the justice system are left without the means to create a better future for themselves and their families. Across communities, those means can take many shapes. But here in Illinois, I see one glaring failure: the actual cost of justice, particularly for youth in the juvenile system. The juvenile fines and fees that burden young people and their families don’t enhance public safety—they fail as a measure for youth accountability and serve only to make youth more likely to reoffend.

As a committed member of Illinois’ law enforcement community interested in public safety and justice, I support the passage of SB1463 and its companion bill in the house, HB3120, and I hope other Illinoians will join me. Imposing harsh punishments on juveniles is an unfair and outdated practice that was never based on evidence and must be left behind.

In Illinois, “fine and fees” refer to administrative fees and financial penalties imposed by courts. The Juvenile Court Act of 1987 and other Illinois statutes set up a series of costs specifically for children and their families. But these costs have nothing to do with creating accountability or achieving victim restitution. The reality is a system that creates bigger barriers to youth rehabilitation.

These kids are likely still in school; they are unlikely to have jobs, and if they do, they have limited working hours and income. The system does not take into account their individual circumstances, and is, instead, designed for them to fail.

The new legislation is designed to streamline and simplify the juvenile justice process while reducing the cost for those involved by eliminating fines and fees in cases against minors. Right now, fines and fees can range from less than $50 to almost $1000 and add up quickly. These costs are higher in some counties than others. This legislation would address that problem and make justice equal across the state without undermining a judge’s ability to set victim restitution and order other non-financial conditions that focus on accountability and rehabilitation.

A 2016 study showed that financial penalties imposed on youth increased their risk of reoffending rather than acting as a deterrent. Unpaid debts have lifelong consequences that can impact job prospects, educational opportunities, and much more. Imposing debt on minors sets them up for continued failure and makes it increasingly difficult to change their circumstances without returning to criminal activity.

Passing this legislation won’t be a ‘get out of jail free’ card for youth and it won’t allow them to escape accountability for their actions. Instead, it will create space for new systems that are proven to increase public safety and improve outcomes for justice-involved youth. There are better options for rehabilitation and better ways for Illinois to spend money on the criminal justice system. In 2021, a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that restorative justice programs for juvenile offenders reduced the probability of rearrest by 44%, while another study found that community-based interventions were not only more effective, but less costly to states. Better justice practices are possible, we owe it to young people to give them a better chance at success.

Not only are the policies bad for recidivism rates, but they are bad fiscal policy as well. The longer someone has criminal justice debt, the less likely it is to be collected. Comparing Illinois counties to counties in other states where juvenile court debt collection is relatively high, the courts there only collect about 4% of debt that is more than six months old; after three years, the debt is completely uncollectible. Illinois counties can’t rely on debt they may never collect to pay for the cost of the justice system. Even if they do collect, the actual revenue still won’t be enough to cover the resources used to administer the system: most small counties in Illinois take in less than $5,000 in juvenile justice costs every year. Juvenile fines and fees generate almost no revenue and the cost of collecting is often higher.

If passed, SB1463 will be applied automatically and retroactively, meaning that existing debts will be canceled and no new ones will be imposed on juveniles and their families. This will not be a loss of revenue for Illinois counties, instead it will be a way for those counties to better use its resources that would have been spent on debt collection.

Illinois must join the over 20 other states that have eliminated or reformed juvenile fines and fees. The system of fines and fees is causing youth offenders to fail and we as Illinoians are failing them by not working for change. This legislation, SB1463/HB3120, is a critical step for public safety and for creating better systems of justice for Illinois’ juvenile offenders.

Officer David Franco (Ret.) served with the Chicago Police Department for three decades since the early 1980's, focused on issues ranging from terrorist threats to abandoned property and everything in-between. He is currently an adjunct professor of Criminal Justice at Wright College in Chicago. He holds a BA from Northeastern Illinois University and a MPA from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Illinois adults aren't getting enough sleep

During the pandemic sleep quality decreased and bedtime routines became less structured.
by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection
Illinois - More than three in 10 Illinois adults reported getting too few hours of sleep a night, which can contribute to poor job performance and health problems, according to America's Health Rankings.

Sleep experts say people ages 18 to 60 need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night to be healthy. Losing sleep has been linked to increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Dr. Ravi Johar, chief medical officer for United Healthcare, explained developing a consistent bedtime routine is critical for a good night's rest.

"That's something that's really important, just having a routine," Johar outlined. "Whether it's brushing your teeth, changing into pajamas. Doing some kind of activity before you go to sleep; yoga, listening to music, reading. Setting your alarm for the same time every day."

Statistics show 31% of Illinois adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night, just under the national average of 32%. There are also differences in race and gender. Among Black Illinois residents, 47% get too little sleep, compared to about 27% of white and Hispanic residents. Women get about 5% more sleep than men.

Johar emphasized it is also important to turn off laptops and phones a few hours before bed, because the blue light from screens suppresses the release of melatonin, which induces restful sleep. He also pointed out eating right before bed can trigger a cascade of events to throw off circadian rhythm and metabolism.

"Avoid eating large meals before bedtime," Johar advised. "Those can cause a lot of restless sleep and problems."

Johar added people experiencing prolonged issues with sleep need to see their doctor.

"Sometimes, there may be underlying medical problems that are making it difficult for you to sleep," Johar noted. "And the other thing that's really important that people don't realize is how much stress and behavioral health issues can factor into their sleep."

During the pandemic, while more people reported sleeping longer, sleep quality decreased and bedtime routines became less structured.

Spartans' 11 runs in the first three innings seals win over Comets

Adam Price playing first base

Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

St. Joseph-Ogden first baseman Adam Price looks the ball into his glove in a pick-off attempt on Reed-Custer's Connor Esparza, who made it back to the bag in time to avoid the out. Price led the Spartan offense in the 12-2 non-conference victory with three hits and four RBIs. The senior also crossed the plate twice for SJO. Price and four other seniors will be recognized for their contributions to the baseball program this Wednesday at 4pm before the start of their home game against the Braves of Mt. Zion. St. Joseph-Ogden and the five-senior squad begins regional play at home a week from this Wednesday, May 17 at Meier Field. The Spartans (24-7) will face the winner from Monday's first-round game between Hoopeston-Area and Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin.

Last month's abortion pill ruling was a 'Political Stunt'

Planned Parenthood strongly believes the electorate will ultimately decide the issue
by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection
Illinois - Women's health groups in Illinois and across the country are angered by a pair of federal court rulings last month on the abortion drug mifepristone.

A Texas judge's ruling rolled back the federal Food and Drug Administration's approval, effectively banning the drug.

The same day, a Washington State judge ruled the FDA must keep medication abortion drugs available in over a dozen Democratic-led states, including Illinois.

Everything is currently on hold while an appeals court sorts it out. Cristina Villarreal, chief of external affairs at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, said the Texas ruling was the result of "judge shopping" by anti-abortion groups.

"With the Texas case," said Villarreal, "it's kind of ridiculous that a judge in Texas can make decisions for people who can become pregnant in Illinois, where we have clearly said we support the right to choose."

Mifepristone was approved in 2000 by the FDA. The drug has been used by over 5 million patients.

However, in his ruling, Federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk suggests the FDA had not properly tested the drug and has ordered it off the market.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, essentially giving the power to states to regulate abortion access.

Since then, most "red" states have put restrictions on the procedure, while others have made abortions generally available.

Villarreal said Planned Parenthood strongly believes the electorate will ultimately decide the issue.

"In the ballot box, we've seen that voters are - again and again - trying to protect the right to choose," said Villarreal. "We know that the American public supports access to abortion care."

In the meantime, Villarreal said Planned Parenthood of Illinois will continue to offer all abortion-care options available.

Guest Commentary | The best gift for Mother's Day? Your time

by Glenn Mollette, Guest Commentator

You may have lost your mother early in life or never really knew your mother. My two sons were only 17 and 20 when their mother passed at the ae of 49 from multiple sclerosis. Mother’s Day is a tough day for them and many others around the world. This day may be very difficult for you.

My mother has also passed on but I remember her as one of the hardest working persons I’ve ever known. On Sunday and often during the week she loved getting dressed up and going to church. One of the greatest enjoyments of her life was singing in a gospel quartet with my dad and another lovely couple.

Eula Hinkle Mollette was just the best mom ever. Yes, I’m prejudiced of course.

Mom helped me with my homework. She washed and ironed my clothes. She put breakfast on the table for me every morning. She had something for me to eat every day when I came home from school. She read to me when I was a child and took care of me when I was sick. During the summer we would carry water from our nearby creek to wash clothes. Typically, we caught rain water in large tubs to wash our clothes but summer months often brought dry weather. We had lunch together every day during the summer break. Usually, it was a homemade sandwich and sometimes a candy bar from Grandpa Hinkle’s grocery store. I once wanted root beer and she said, “You won’t like it.” I debated that I would but I didn’t. I was stuck with the root beer.

She never hesitated to set me straight with a peach tree limb across my back side.

If she were alive today, I would try to make up for all the things I didn’t do or didn’t consider doing. I always had good intentions for all the things I might try to do for mom and dad but they slipped from this life before I had the opportunity.

Missed opportunities happen often to most of us. We have good intentions but often we don’t have the ability to act on those intentions. I’m envious of those who are able to do a lot for their moms and dads and wish that I could have done more.

However, so often what we can do are the simplest things that mean so much. Today, I don’t want my family to do anything for me but call me or visit me occasionally. A hug and some shared times are the most meaningful to me. Some good quality time is actually the best gift we can give to mom, dad or anyone.

Our time is fleeting for us all. To be generous with a visit, conversation and sharing of life is probably the most precious gift we can give.

Mother’s Day is coming. Set aside your best gift – your time.


Dr. Glenn Mollette is a syndicated American columnist and author of Grandpa's Store, American Issues, and ten other books. He is read in all 50 states. The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily representative of any other group or organization.


This article is the sole opinions of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Sentinel. We welcome comments and views from our readers. Submit your letters to the editor or commentary on a current event 24/7 to


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