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Pro Bono Project Helps Expand Voting Rights for Incarcerated Youth

May 26, 2021
Latham helps draft bill that will give incarcerated youth access to education and information in Illinois.

In Illinois, incarcerated juveniles are eligible to vote while in prison, but giving them access to education and information for making informed choices when voting can be challenging. A cross-office Latham team partnered with Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (CLCCR) to research and draft state legislation addressing voting rights information within the Illinois juvenile prison system. Last week the legislation Latham helped draft was unanimously approved by the state’s House of Representatives. 

CLCCR was attempting to implement this new piece of voting rights legislation in Illinois based on legislation that Latham had previously helped pass in respect of the Illinois Department of Corrections. The goal with this legislation was to provide civics classes to juvenile detainees within the Illinois juvenile prison system in order to increase juvenile awareness of the opportunities for civic engagement available to them both during and after their detention.  

On May 21, 2021, the legislation, now known as SB 2116, was approved in the Illinois House of Representatives. CLCCR anticipates that this legislation will reduce recidivism rates, as studies have linked an increase in civic engagement with a decrease in criminal activity. Additionally, the passage of SB 2116 will hopefully help to increase the youth vote by increasing juvenile awareness of how, where, when, and to vote; helping young people understand the importance of voting; and decreasing barriers to voting. The bill will now go to the governor. 

Led by counsel Shahid Jamil, the Latham team included associates Adam Czernikiewicz and Anna Karnaze.