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Peters ends “pay to stay” with new law

Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 09:01 AM

prison 081219SPRINGFIELD – The Department of Corrections will no longer be able to sue former inmates for the cost of their incarceration under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“‘Pay to stay’ is indentured servitude,” Peters said. “These folks served their time and were released from prison, so their punishment should be over. There’s no reason to continue punishing them and risk sabotaging their return to society by imposing a financial burden.”

House Bill 900 prevents the Department of Corrections from suing formerly incarcerated people for costs associated with their incarceration. The bill extends a restriction which already exists in certain jurisdictions to apply statewide.

Peters also noted the structural disadvantages that the “pay to stay” system reinforces.

“This practice affects people and communities of color at a wildly disproportionate rate,” Peters said. “It is a regressive, harmful, and predatory action that places additional undue hardships on folks who, at no fault of their own, are already at a disadvantage at birth due to the unjust systemic racial biases that exist. ‘Pay to stay’ has no place in a just society, and I’m proud to have led the charge in the Senate to end it. I commend the governor for taking the necessary actions to abolish it once and for all.”

The law, which is effective immediately, was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

Police to receive more training on raids under new law by Collins

Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 08:57 AM

police raid 052919SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Collins issued the following statement as Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law House Bill 51, the Peter Mendez Act:

“Peter Mendez was nine years old in 2017 when Chicago police, acting on inaccurate warrant information, raided his family’s home in error and pointed weapons at him. His harrowing story and others brought to light by CBS News reporter Dave Savini this past year spurred me to sponsor this law,” Collins said.

The law directs police training schools to include instruction on ensuring the physical safety and well-being of a child of an arrested parent or immediate family member while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the arrest and safety of officers, suspects, and other involved individuals. Instruction must also cover de-escalation tactics and procedures for inquiring whether a child will require supervision and care arrangements.

“This is about what we accept when we give police the authority to use force,” Collins said. “These incidents are not merely careless or erroneous, they are civil rights violations. We cannot tolerate the careless use of force.”

The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Steans law will update state’s suicide prevention strategy

Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 08:54 AM

steans 041119SPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) that updates Illinois’ suicide prevention strategy was signed by the governor today.

Steans’ measure requires the Department of Public Health to strengthen efforts to prevent suicide in Illinois. In 2016, suicide caused more deaths than homicide, motor vehicle accidents, and prevalent diseases like liver disease, hypertension, and HIV.

“When suicide takes a loved one from us, we’re left wondering ‘What could I have done?’” Steans said. “By partnering with advocates and devoting state resources in support of all our knowledge about how to prevent suicide, we’re doing what we can do right now.”

Steans law to require LGBTQ history to be taught in schools

Published: Monday, August 12, 2019 08:52 AM

steans 031419SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is continuing her effort to introduce an inclusive curriculum to Illinois schools that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Steans’ law requiring public schools to include the contributions of LGBTQ individuals in their history curricula became law today.

“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” Steans said. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”

Currently, Illinois schools are required to teach students about the role and contributions of African-Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as about women’s history, the history of the labor movement and disability history. Steans also thanked the efforts of advocates like Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, the Legacy Project and Equality Illinois for helping to raise awareness of the need for LGBTQ historical figures to be recognized similarly.

“Thank you, Gov. Pritzker, for signing the Inclusive Curriculum Bill and ensuring that LGBTQ youth in Illinois will now see themselves in the history they are taught. We are excited this bill is now law in 2019 - the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and the birth of the modern LGBTQ equality movement,” said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois. “Also, thank you to Rep. Moeller and Sen. Steans, our fierce champions in the General Assembly. Your bold and unrelenting leadership and advocacy will benefit our youth for decades to come. As a former first grade teacher, I know how an inclusive education system can create change within a community. With this law, we will get closer as a state to telling the whole story of our shared history.”

According to a 2015 survey conducted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

“It is my hope that teaching students about the valuable contributions LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history will create a safer environment with fewer incidents of harassment,” Steans said. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to look to new role models who share life experiences with them.”

House Bill 246 takes effect July 1, 2020.

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