In Illinois, felony murder is listed as a subsection in the state’s first degree murder statute. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/9).

In Illinois, prosecutors can charge and convict any person of first degree murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed another specified felony and that a death was caused “in the course of or in furtherance of such crime or flight therefrom.” Up until 2021, prosecutors could charge and convict people of felony murder even when the death was caused by a third non-party (i.e. neither the person nor their accomplice), but the story of Tevin Louis, convicted of felony murder after a police officer killed his friend, pushed Illinois to limit the scope of its felony murder law. The new law change, however, was not made “retroactive,” meaning that everyone convicted before the legal change haven’t been able to benefit from the law, including Louis, who is serving a 51 year sentence.

A conviction for felony murder carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Analysis: Race

Race and Conviction Rate

In Illinois, you are 23.2357 times more likely to be incarcerated for felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 23.2357x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals account for only 14% of Illinois’s population


they make up 54% of all incarcerated people


and 72% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


In terms of gender, women make up 5.44% of felony murder convictions.

In Cook, Madison, and St. Clair counties, the overwhelming majority of those convicted of felony murder are Black.

  • 82%

    of those convicted of felony murder are Black in In Cook County (which includes Chicago).

  • 86%

    of those convicted of felony murder are Black in Madison County.

  • 91%

    of those convicted of felony murder are Black in St. Clair County.

Analysis: Harsh Sentences

In total, there are at least 533 persons incarcerated for felony murder in Illinois (comprising 7.79% of all murder convictions). 
Of these individuals, 81 are sentenced to life in prison.

The remaining 452 persons are sentenced to a cumulative

17,688 years in prison

The median quantified sentence for felony murder is 35 years in prison.

Analysis: Youthful Impact

Young people in Illinois are disproportionately impacted by felony murder.

  • 27

    Median age at offense for all crimes

  • 22

    Median age at offense for felony murder

  • 62

    Persons incarcerated for felony murder in Illinois that were younger than 18* at time of their offense.

    *Of these young persons, 74.19% of them are Black.

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 4.2 / 5 (B)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
Financial Accessibility
No Residency Required
Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

We created our dataset by examining Illinois Department of Corrections data for people whose charge was listed as “murder/other forcible felony.” We obtained these data through their public datasets and the state’s inmate information search. This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.

Access the Data

Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.

This analysis encompasses those convicted of felony murder as of March 2023.