Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed December 15, 2011


People v. Young, 2011 IL 111886

Appellate citation: No. 1-08-2690 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).


      JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.


     In 2007, on West Augusta Boulevard in Chicago, an undercover agent made a controlled purchase of heroin from this defendant. At a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, evidence was introduced that the transaction took place 443 feet from the “High Mountain Church and Preschool.” Young was convicted of delivering a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class 1 felony. On direct review, the appellate court reduced the conviction to simple delivery (a Class 2 felony) after finding that a preschool is not a “school” within the meaning of section 407(b)(2) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. The State appealed.

      The term “school” is not defined in any other portion of the Controlled Substances Act. However, the 1991 amendatory act which added the “school” provision at issue here also amended or created numerous other pieces of legislation to increase the penalty for various different offenses which take place on or around school grounds. In so doing, it defined “school” as “any public or private elementary or secondary school, community college, college or university.” Two appellate court decisions which are 20 years old have held that this definition is also applicable to the “school” provision at issue here, which was implemented by the same amendatory act.

      In numerous amendments since that time, the legislature has not chosen to alter this two-decades-old result reached in the appellate court. Because the legislature has not clearly indicated an intention contrary to that judicial construction, the meaning of “school” within the Controlled Substances Act should be understood in the same sense attributed to it by the courts in those previous decisions, that is, as not encompassing a preschool.

      The appellate court’s judgment was affirmed.