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Van Pelt pushes to reform interrogations of minors

vanpelt 042518SPRINGFIELD – Minors arrested for certain crimes would have greater protections during police interrogations under legislation sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), which advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday night.

“According to the Juvenile Justice Initiative, nearly 80 percent of minors don’t understand the Miranda warnings, with the least understood warning being the right to an attorney,” Van Pelt said. “We must reform our interrogation laws and protect the rights of minors.”

Senate Bill 1265 requires that any person under the age of 18 who is charged with murder or sex offenses have an attorney present during all interrogations.

In 2016, Van Pelt championed the legislation that extended these rights to minors under the age of 15 who are charged with murder or sex offenses. That law took effect last year. While Senate Bill 2370 was a victory for juvenile justice, Van Pelt said she believes we must do more to protect youth.

“Sixty-two percent of minors believe they can be penalized by a judge for remaining silent during interrogations. This is unacceptable,” Van Pelt said. “When citizens don’t understand their rights, injustice is served.”

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

 Senator Patricia Van Pelt

5th Legislative District

Years Served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Criminal Law; Energy; Gaming; Public Health (Chairperson); State Government.

Biography: Born Nov. 12, 1957, in Chicago. Bachelor’s degree, Roosevelt University (1996); master’s degree, Spertus Institute (1996); doctorate, Capella University (2009); earned her CPA. Currently CEO of TARGET Area Development Corp. She has one child.