Landmark Decision

The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously ruled in a landmark decision that a 41-year sentence for a juvenile offender constitutes the equivalent of a life term.

The decision triggers sentencing protections for juvenile offenders who are sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.

“We should be concerned about how long you have to spend in prison for what you did, despite the fact that you were so willing to give someone else a death sentence.”



The order came from a 15-year-old on a bicycle near a Chicago park in 2001: “Shoot him, shoot him.”

Benard McKinley, 16, obliged. And Abdo Serna-Ibarra, 23, never made his way to the soccer field.

McKinley was later arrested and charged as an adult with first degree murder for the killing of Serna-Ibarra. In 2004, Cook County jurors found him guilty.

The sentencing judge, Kenneth J. Wadas, went on to make an example of McKinley and his murder, condemning the young man to 100 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections — 50 years for the murder, and a consecutive 50 years for the fatal use of a firearm. The sentence was necessary to deter other criminals, Wadas said in court, and would enable others to play soccer with “one less Benard McKinley out there with a handgun blowing them away.”

With no chance of parole or early release, McKinley was doomed to either live to celebrate and surpass his 116th birthday, or grow old and die within the fortress of the state’s prison system.


WARNING: Elderly Inmates At Risk

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with the age of the inmate who died.

As the new coronavirus began its rapid spread through Illinois communities, prison guards at the Logan Correctional Center passed out hotel-size bars of soap and installed disinfectant dispensers, according to 65-year-old prisoner Janet Jackson.

Despite the department’s efforts last week, cleaning supplies were soon scant at the women’s prison, Jackson wrote in an email to Injustice Watch.