Adult crimes, adult punishment

April 18, 2013 

Most people believe that kids grow up faster than ever today, but not all Illinois lawmakers do.

The state House voted 89-26 to give 17-year-olds who commit certain "lesser" felonies a break. Instead of being tried as adults as now happens, they would be charged as juveniles.

Locally, only Reps. Jerry Costello II and Charlie Meier had the good sense to vote "no." Reps. Dan Beiser, John Cavaletto, Jay Hoffman, Eddie Lee Jackson and Dwight Kay voted "yes."

The rational for the change is that teens' brains aren't fully formed and so they still haven't developed good judgment. That might apply for some petty offenses such as shoplifting a DVD or violating curfew. But breaking into someone's car and taking his belongings? Breaking into and stealing from someone's home? Please. A 17-year-old who commits those kinds of crimes knows he's crossed into adult territory.

Several years ago lawmakers decided to treat 17-year-olds who commit misdemeanors as juveniles. Now they want to move the bar even lower, and that's unacceptable.

Criminals in Illinois get plenty of breaks as is, adults and juveniles. Where's the break for the victims of crime?

The Senate still has to vote on this bill. We urge our area senators to vote "no."

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