Our Purpose: To Serve as a Digital Resource Center


The United States has far more people in prison and in jail than public safety requires. This damages the lives of those who are incarcerated, their families, and their communities. It also contributes to a cycle of crime and punishment and diverts resources from more constructive uses. We have much work to do to achieve a fair and effective criminal justice system.

The resource materials located on the various menu pages above include materials from the resource binder distributed at programs on Confronting the Moral Crisis of Mass Incarceration that St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago hosted in the Winter of 2018 in order to promote greater understanding of the criminal justice system and to begin to provide tools for individuals and organizations to get involved in promoting radical change. Leading experts spoke to the full range of complex issues that we need to address in order to rethink and change the laws and practices that have resulted in too many men and women—most of them people of color—being imprisoned or jailed.

Videos of each of those two-hour programs are available on this homepage.

Chicago Summer of Justice Reform

We arrive at summer in Chicago with an agenda of interesting and manageable opportunities to make a contribution to criminal justice reform.  

Spreading the Word

Consider exploring more deeply one or more of the resources mentioned in the update and sending that update and sharing this post to others who could be interested in learning more and making a difference.

Preserving and Expanding Bail Reform in Cook County

We can each easily make a contribution to maintaining the momentum of bail reform in Chicago by signing the petition addressed to officials of Cook County government and court system (that you will find by clicking here) asking them to continue to push forward with comprehensive bond reform in Cook County, and by sharing the petition with others.

Last September, Chief Judge Timothy Evans issued General Order 18.8A, which requires Cook County judges to set money bonds for those accused of a crime only in amounts people can afford to pay.

Nevertheless, approximately 2,500 people continue to be incarcerated in Cook County Jail without having been convicted solely because they cannot afford to pay their money bonds, more than nine months after the order took effect, and in the first three months of 2018, only 54% of people ordered to pay money bonds were actually able to pay them and secure release.

Increasing Housing Opportunities for Those Who Have Been Arrested or Incarcerated

We all can also participate in the simple process that has been devised by the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance and Housing Action Illinois to support the initiative described in the this “one-pager” that  they are relaunching this summer to overcome barriers that those with arrest records or prior convictions face in leasing a place to live.

We can each help by getting organizations of which we are members to complete the Endorsement Form endorsing their proposal to amend Cook County’s Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit landlords from refusing to rent to individuals on the basis of having an arrest record and from implementing a policy of not renting to anyone who has been convicted of a crime.  (Landlords’ would still be entitled to consider a prior conviction among all other factor in each individual case.)

Individually, we each can also fill out, and ask others to fill out, and send back to those organizations cards in the form that will be available soon at this web location to confirm individual support for the proposal, for them to pass along to the appropriate Cook County Commissioner.

Legislation Requiring Governor Rauner’s Signature

Please also review the extensive list in the attached update of important criminal justice reform legislation that was passed by the Illinois Legislature in its spring session, and figure out you can join with others in contacting Governor Rauner to insist that he sign them into law.

All that should still give you plenty of time left to enjoy your summer.

Time Critical: Contacting Governor Rauner To Insist That He Sign Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform

Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform That Was Approved by the Illinois Legislature But That Needs the Governor’s Signature To Become Law.

Contacting the Governor, individually or with others, to ask him to sign the bills promoting criminal justice reform that passed the Legislature, and that need his signature to become law (partial list):

Penalties and Corrections

HB 3920 (Driving on a Suspended License) to reclassify as a petty offense (rather than a Class A misdemeanor)  the first two instances of driving on a suspended license due to unpaid traffic fines and failing to pay support or to comply with visitation orders.

HB 4888 (Data Collection re Corrections Issues) to  require the inclusion of specific data, such as incidence of violence in correctional facilities, parole revocations by county, completion of evidence-based programs, vacancy rates at work-release centers, in Department of Corrections’ quarterly report, to enable executive team to review, identify trends and take steps to mitigate violence.

Diversion

SB 3388 (Incentives to Counties to Divert Those Charged to Community Based Services) to expand eligibility to participate in Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) to all probationable offenses.

SB 3023 (Substance Abuse) to create the Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Addiction Treatment Act to allow law enforcement to facilitate contact between community members and substance use treatment providers.

Registries and Collateral Consequences

SB 3489 (Registration of Offenders) to allow individuals required to register on the Murder and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry to request review of any errors in the information that led to the registration mandate.

SB 336 (Use of Medical Marijuana) to authorize the Department of Public Health to establish the Opioid Alternative Pilot Program The program to allow treatment of a medical condition with medical marijuana rather than an opioid, and to remove the restriction for individuals with conviction for “excluded offenses” on eligibility for a cannabis registry identification card.

SB 2560 (Publication of Criminal Records) to provides that any website that publishes criminal record information for profit shall correct any errors in a record within 5 business days of notification of the error and shall not publish booking photographs for civil offenses and offenses that are classified as less than a Class A misdemeanor.

Court debt

HB 4594 (Court Fees and Costs) to  organize and consolidate court fees and costs that are imposed on court users and create a sliding scale fee waiver for poor criminal defendants.

HB 5341 (Sealing Criminal Records) to prevent denial of sealing petition for unpaid fees, fines or assessments ordered by a court, law enforcement or other units of government. 

Prisoner rights:

HB 4469 (Voting Rights)- to insure that people held in jails in Illinois can vote – Here is a story on that measure.

HB 5104 (Medical copay) to abolish the $5 copay that IL inmates must pay to see a doctor.

Gun safety:
SB 3256  (Gun Purchase Waiting Period)- to increase the waiting period on all gun purchases to 72 hours.

HB 2354 (Firearms Restraining Order) to allow family or law enforcement to petition the courts to have a firearms temporarily removed from the home of a person determined to be a risk to themselves or others.

SB 337 (Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act) to require that Federal Firearms License holders in Illinois be certified by state police.

How to Contact Illinois Governor Rauner Regarding Legislation Promoting Criminal Justice Reform passed by the Illinois  Legislature.

Governor Rauner needs to hear from you. Call: 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121 or visit:

https://www2.illinois.gov/gov/contactus/Pages/default.aspx