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Roe to join task force

Ogle County State’s Attorney John B. “Ben” Roe has been appointed to a new state task force to study whether 17-year-olds charged with felony offenses should be tried as juveniles or as adults.

Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross named Roe to the 15-member Illinois Juvenile Jurisdiction Task Force.

Each of the General Assembly’s four legislative leaders is allowed to name one person to the task force.

“As a long-time prosecutor who began his career as a juvenile probation officer, Ben Roe brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to this new task force,” said Cross.

“Because he recognizes the importance of both rehabilitating young offenders and keeping communities safe, I’m confident he will make important contributions and that the task force will benefit from his practical experience in juvenile justice.”

In November, Roe, 34, was reelected to his second term as Ogle County state’s attorney. Prior to becoming state’s attorney of Ogle County in 2004, Roe served three years as an assistant state’s attorney in Carroll County, where his responsibilities included juvenile prosecution.

He also has experience as a probation officer in Ogle County where he was assigned to Focus House, a detention home in Rochelle.

Roe is Chair of the Ogle County Juvenile Justice Council, which has received national recognition for its work in juvenile justice reform.

Ogle County is one of five Illinois Models for Change demonstration sites expanding community-based alternatives to confinement.

Models for Change is a national initiative funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to accelerate reform of juvenile justice systems across the country.

Focused on efforts in 16 select states, the initiative aims to create replicable models of reform that effectively hold young people accountable for their actions, provide for their rehabilitation, protect them from harm, increase their life chances, and manage the risk they pose to themselves and to public safety.

The Illinois Juvenile Jurisdiction Task Force was created by legislation signed earlier this year by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Senate Bill 2275 changed the age of adult jurisdiction for misdemeanors from 17 to age 18.

Beginning in 2010, 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanor offenses in Illinois no longer will be tried in adult court but instead will be tried in juvenile court where they will have access to rehabilitative services.

The same legislation directed the new task force to examine issues surrounding raising adult jurisdiction for felonies from 17 to age 18 and to make recommendations to the General Assembly by January 2010.

The District of Columbia and 38 states consider 18 as the age of adult jurisdiction for felonies and misdemeanors.

Beginning a youth in juvenile court offers an opportunity for more services like mental health and drug treatment.

“Determining what age a young person should no longer be considered a juvenile and be moved to the adult criminal system has been a complicated issue for policy makers across the nation, and I look forward to the challenge of studying what is best for Illinois,” said Roe.

“I look forward to a thorough examination of the extensive research data and discussions of the best course of action for public safety and crime reduction.”

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