Illinois May Lead the Nation in Criminal Justice Reform

Published: Jul 01, 2016, by admin in Constitutional Rights, Criminal Defense, Legal Blog, Violent Crimes

Headed by Senator Dick Durbin, Illinois is shaping out to be a leader in criminal justice reforms. Senator Durbin is pushing legislation that will automatically reduce the minimum sentence of non-violent crimes. This reform will also aid in reducing relapses in criminal behavior and strengthen the prison programming.

However, in order for this legislation to go into effect, it would need support from both sides of the aisle. Republican United States Senator Mark Kirk recently announced that he would co-sponsor new legislation to reduce the minimum sentence of non-violent crimes. Kirk’s sponsorship could be instrumental in getting this bill off the ground floor.

Illinois Committed to Criminal Justice Reform

Bruce Rauner, Illinois Governor publicly announced a challenge to lower the Illinois prison population by at least 25% within the next ten years. In keeping with this challenge, he formulated the State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. This committee is comprised of criminal justice practitioners, including policymakers as well as lawmakers.

This Commission’s objective is to lead the reform movement in the state by evaluating sentencing structures, policies, and developing recommendations to help accomplish criminal reform legislation. The committee has already released one round of recommendation and will release additional rounds in the next few months.

State Senator Kwame Raoul, who sits on the Committee on Restorative Justice has personally pledged to push these reform initiatives. Supporters of this criminal justice reform in Illinois strongly believe that the state places too much reliance on the prison system, placing many communities in Illinois at a disadvantage while doing nothing to rehabilitate offenders.

Public Support for the Reforms

The U.S Justice Action Network recently administered a public poll to assess the support the justice reform. The poll revealed that there was overwhelming support from Illinois citizens, both from Republican and Democratic voters. More than ninety percent of Republicans and ninety-two percent of Democrats were in support of decreasing prison time for offenders who had committed crimes that were low risk and not violent in nature.

On the other hand, as many as eighty-seven percent of Illinois voters favored replacing minimum sentencing requirements with ranges that would be left up to the discretion of the judge and determined based on the circumstances of each case and offender. Last year, taxpayers in Illinois spent more than 1 billion dollars on incarceration and has yet to see a return on their investment in regards to public safety.

Lower sentences only address half the battle of rehabilitating offenders. The majority of Illinois voters recognized this fact because 94% believed that the criminal justice system should offer more support to offenders who were reentering society. Voters felt that the government would do well to provide more job training and opportunities which would help ex-offenders acquire jobs, enabling them to support their families, and even more importantly prevent them from turning back to criminal behavior.

Facing Criminal Charges in Illinois? Call Attorney Michael O’Meara Today

With mass public support, criminal justice reform should be forthcoming. However, Illinois residents will have to wait on their legislature to take the necessary steps to bring such reforms to reality.

If you are facing criminal charges, don’t delay in contacting professional, legal help. Chicago criminal defense lawyer is an experienced attorney helping clients in the greater Chicago area and Cook County. Michael O’Meara can provide your case with an initial free, legal consult. Call him today at 312-909-0706.