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due to the existence of Section 4 of the Statute on Statutes, a savings clause of general applicability.
The Supreme Court interpreted the Statute on Statutes to hold that procedural changes to statutes
will be applied retroactively, while substantive changes are prospective only. The Supreme Court
further clarified that, due to the Statute on Statutes, an Illinois Court should interpret statutes based
on the plain text reading of the statute. If the statute is unclear, the Supreme will apply Section 4
of the Statue on Statues as a default. In applying the holding to the case of Luis Montano, the
Supreme Court found that the newly amended “Excluded Jurisdiction” did not indicate a temporal
reach when changing the automatic transfer age from fifteen to sixteen. Further, as previously
mentioned, the legislature did not include a savings clause with respect to the statutory change.
Thus, based on Illinois case law and the interpretation of the Statute on Statutes, the Supreme
Court concluded that the “Excluded Jurisdiction” did apply retroactively and the Circuit Court was
correct in granting Luis Montano’s motion for a transfer from adult to juvenile court. For Luis
Montano, this holding will result in being released from juvenile court at age twenty-one, as
juvenile court only has jurisdiction over youths up until they turn twenty-one years of age. Once
released, Luis Montano will mostly likely be on probation, which is a slim punishment in
comparison to the decades-long imprisonment he would have faced if the changes to the “Excluded
Jurisdiction” statute did not apply retroactively.
People ex rel. Alvarez v. Howard determined that the newly changed “Excluded
Jurisdiction” statute would be applied retroactively toward pending juvenile cases. This statutory
application and interpretation has already been upheld in a similar subsequent case, People v.
Taylor. In People v. Taylor, the defendant was found guilty of first degree murder and armed
robbery. He was fifteen years old at the time of the commission of the crimes, and was sentenced
to twenty-six years in prison after being tried in adult criminal court. However, pursuant to
Howard, the defendant’s sentence was vacated and remanded to juvenile court for resentencing.
The decision to allow the automatic juvenile transfer to apply retroactively in Illinois
appears to be in concurrence not only with legal reasoning, but also with certain policy standpoints.
The U.S. Supreme Court, lawmakers, and criminal justice experts are acknowledging the
differences between adults and adolescents. Scientific research has made it clear that an
adolescent’s brain is capable of making significant changes that can enable them to make better
choices in the future. A study conducted by researchers at both the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology and Brown University has shown that “incarcerating minors in adult court
significantly diminishes the likelihood they will complete high school, and makes them more likely
to be incarcerated as adults.” Furthermore, when transferred juveniles are incarcerated with adults,
adverse consequences arise. Transferred juveniles become exposed to the antics of adult criminals
and as a result are subject to forms of criminal training in adult prison. Thus, it appears that by
keeping juveniles out of the adult system and in the juvenile system, a youth released from a
juvenile detention center has the opportunity to be rehabilitated, as well as avoiding exposure to
On the other hand, the implication of this new amendment to the automatic transfer age
puts an additional hardship on the families who have fallen victim to a juvenile’s violent actions.
Victim’s families are faced with the emotional hardship of having to deal with the judicial system
again, by having to be privy to the resentencing process by reopening these old cases. Victim’s
families are no longer afforded the sense that the person who has committed these crimes against