control. 108 Some psychologists feel that having endured life as a child soldier is punishment
enough for any acts the child committed while soldiering; indeed, these researchers have noted
the far-ranging effects of being a child soldier that extend on into the next generation even in the
absence of ongoing armed conflict. 109
A total freedom from prosecution for gang-related crimes that may have been compelled
is unlikely to ever be employed in the United States. First, it runs counter to the core principle of
personal accountability for personally-intended actions that our juvenile justice system addresses
with an eye toward rehabilitation. 110 Second, current trends toward restorative justice have led
some courts to favor probation with services over detention dispositions for delinquency
adjudication. 111 After all, a court cannot order supervision unless there is a recognized reason to
do so, such as an adjudication of delinquency or a guilty plea. Because the child, though
adjudicated delinquent with a record as such, remains free and has access to services (at least in
theory), legislators may not see any reason to remove the adjudication from the picture. Third, the
youths most often adjudicated for gang-related offenses represent minorities that continue to face
discrimination either from law enforcement, the juvenile court system, or both. 112
It is unlikely that any of these factors will change enough in the near future, and while it
is far beyond the scope of this Article to resolve the racial element of gang-related juvenile
adjudications, questions of culpability and means of providing services are more easily addressed.
We have already looked at the issue of juvenile culpability in the context of gang activity. 113 As
to the issue of hanging the ability to monitor a minor’s behavior and access to services on a
delinquency adjudication, this author suggests creating a mandatory interim step that allows the
child to interact with the juvenile court system enough to access services and receive supervision,
but without the need to adjudicate and assign a disposition that would follow the child. 114 This
would provide an appropriate officer of the court to make a non-adversarial inquiry into the
minor’s situation, which the officer could then present to the court. The court could then either
retain the case at the dispositional supervision level or permit it to move toward adjudication.
Juvenile courts operate under an intention to execute dispositions in the least restrictive manner
possible. 115 This author suggests that a juvenile court record is unnecessarily restrictive in
situations where the child is adjudicated solely or primarily to provide the court with the legal
justification to provide supervision or care that is not being provided by a parent or guardian.
In addition to this interim level of court involvement, this author suggests provisional
immunity from prosecution, contingent on the youth’s cooperation with any pre-adjudication
assessments or services. Rather than total immunity from prosecution, provisional immunity may
have similar beneficial effects for the minor without completely upsetting the current system.
108 Daniel Ryan, Case Comment, International Law And Laws Of War And International Criminal Law — Prosecution Of Child
Soldiers — United States v. Omar Ahmed Khadr, (Military Comm’n, Referred Apr. 24, 2004), 33 SUFFOLK TRANSNAT’L L. REV. 175,
109 Kerig et al., supra note 83, at 776; see Blattmann & Annan, supra note 90, at 883–84, 893–95.
110 Rightmer, supra note 18, at 5–10; Grace E. Shear, Note, The Disregarding of the Rehabilitative Spirit of Juvenile Codes:
Addressing Resentencing Hearings in Blended Sentencing Schemes, 99 KY. L.J. 211, 213–18 (2010–2011).
111 Judy C. Tsui, Breaking Free of the Prison Paradigm: Integrating Restorative Justice Techniques into Chicago’s Juvenile Justice
System, 104 J. CRIM. L. & CRIMINOLOGY 635, 641–53 (2014).
112 See generally Kristin Henning, Criminalizing Normal Adolescent Behavior in Communities of Color: The Role of Prosecutors in
Juvenile Justice Reform, 98 CORNELL L. REV. 383 (2013) (regarding racial disparities in juvenile prosecutions).
113 See discussion supra Part II.
114 In Illinois, this would be to amend the statute regarding minors in need of authoritative intervention to include gang-involved
minors receiving services and supervision. See 705 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 405/3-1 (West 2015).
115 See, e.g., 705 ILL. COMP. STAT. ANN. 405/5-750 (West 2015) (“[T]he court may commit [the minor adjudicated delinquent] to the
Department of Juvenile Justice, if it finds that . . . commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice is the least restrictive alternative .
. . .”).