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Suit charges due process violations for youthful offenders

Wed, 24 Oct 2012 12:07:52 CDT
By: IPR's Robert Wildeboer

A young man on parole was recently imprisoned for failing to attend school even though his attorneys say he was attending school. IPR's Robert Wildeboer says that's according to a newly filed class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit identifies the 17-year-old parolee only by his initials M.H. His attorneys say he suffered the same fate as many kids on parole after serving time in one of Illinois' youth prisons. The attorneys say parole officers send kids back to prison for parole violations and there's no mechanism for the kids to fight back. There's no probable cause hearing. Kids aren't told that they can bring witnesses to testify, and they're not told that they can have an attorney represent them. Attorney Alexa Van Brunt says the parole revocation hearings are a sham and in addition to being unconstitutional, they are often inaccurate because thereís no way to review the parole officers claims and the result is the costly imprisonment of kids who may not have actually violated their parole. A study by the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission outlined these problems a year ago but Van Brunt says there's been little action because the report had no legal or legislative force. The Prisoner Review Board which conducts the hearings and is the subject of the lawsuit declined comment citing the litigation.

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