Governor Rauner and members of the General Assembly today discussed bipartisan legislation to reform Illinois’ criminal justice system. The three bills came from recommendations by the Governor’s Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission.
“Today we are taking action to reform the criminal justice system in Illinois,” Governor Rauner said. “This package of bills takes the first steps to break the cycle of recidivism, by aiming to reduce both prison admissions and the length of someone’s prison stay. I thank the legislative sponsors for their work on these important pieces of legislation.”
The three bills deal with judicial sentencing, electronic monitoring and providing offenders ID cards when leaving prison. The proposed legislation includes:
· SB 3164 requires review of a pre-sentencing report, as well as an explanation of why incarceration is appropriate for offenders with no prior probation sentences or prison convictions prior to sentencing. Last year, nearly 60 percent of new prison admissions for Class 3 or 4 felonies had no prior convictions for violent crimes. Sending low-level offenders with no prior probation or other convictions inefficiently uses prison resources and potentially makes low-level offenders more susceptible to reoffending. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Michael Connelly and Rep. Brian Stewart.
· SB 3294 expands the use of electronic monitoring to help transition offenders back into society. This will increase public safety by more effectively focusing IDOC’s supervision and programming resources to reduce recidivism. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Kwame Raoul and Rep. Elgie Sims.
· SB 3368 requires the Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Corrections work together to provide state identification so offenders can transition into society more easily. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Karen McConnaughay and Rep. John Cabello.
“Criminal justice reform is an essential step towards reducing the number of people incarcerated in the Illinois,” State Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Wheaton) said. “Governor Rauner’s administration is following the lead that has been put into place by several southern Republican governors; including Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina and former Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas were the leaders of this movement, who reformed their criminal justice systems.”
“I am committed to reforming Illinois’ criminal justice system and applaud Governor Rauner for his support in this historic endeavor,” State Rep Brian W. Stewart (R-Freeport) said. “As a former law enforcement officer I have witnessed many needed changes to the current system. The bipartisan bills we have developed will hopefully set the standard for other states to follow as we work towards meaningful reform.”
“The work of the Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission is furthering shared goals of reducing recidivism, strengthening communities ravaged by both crime and the effects of excessive incarceration, using resources efficiently and expanding best practices backed by solid data,” State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) said. “The legislative package we are putting on the table today is another encouraging step forward, but there is much work left to be done, and these collaborative efforts must continue.”
“The introduction of these first few measures mark the beginning of our long journey to reform our failing criminal justice system,” State Rep. Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) said. “These are excellent ideas that we’ve worked on in a bipartisan way to correct the problem of an out-of-date justice system in Illinois. I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to install even more recommendations from the Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform Commission in order to move Illinois closer to a more fair and responsible system.”
“Ensuring public safety remains a top legislative priority for me, which is why I am supporting Gov. Rauner’s criminal justice reform proposal that will help keep violent offenders off the streets, reduce recidivism, and assist offenders in successful re-entry,” said State Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles). “As a sponsor of Senate Bill 3368, I believe it is extremely important that former offenders are issued a state identification card that will help them successfully transition back into society.”
Really good stuff in there and I’m glad to see the governor is finally trumpeting these proposals.