Indigent Children Are At Disadvantage When Enter Illinois Juvenile System

CHICAGO (AP) -- A report by the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University says indigent children are at a disadvantage when they enter an overburdened Illinois juvenile justice system.

The report, which was also prepared by the National Juvenile Defender Center, contends the lack of time, support and resources defenders have is undermining their ability to effectively represent indigent children in Juvenile Court cases.

The report, to be released today (Wednesday), states more than 70 percent of all juvenile cases in Illinois are resolved by plea bargains.

The report recommends the appointment of counsel before the first court appearance and calls for children's lawyers to provide zealous advocacy at all court proceedings. It says lawyers also should have regular contact with clients and use language children can understand.

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