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Criminal Justice

  • McGuire: anti-violence programs now law; trauma caused by violence is more than physical

    mcguire 030717 1714CHICAGO – New anti-violence programs focused around community trauma centers will aim to address the destructive effects of gun violence now that a bipartisan measure co-sponsored by State Sen. Pat McGuire has been signed into law.

    “I’m glad that we could work across the aisle to help our communities heal,” McGuire said. “The programs that will arise out of this process are aimed at the root causes of violence all over the state of Illinois.”

    The legislation tasks the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority with assisting in the implementation of trauma recovery services for violent crime victims in underserved communities with high-levels of violent crime. Programs would tackle problems like behavioral health treatment, financial recovery, family support and relocation assistance, and advice for navigating the legal system.

    “The trauma caused by violence is more than merely physical,” McGuire said. “It leaves scars on a community that are much harder to see and that perpetuate a vicious cycle. These programs will seek to address that deeper harm and break that vicious cycle.”

    The legislation was Senate Bill 2872 in the 99th General Assembly.

  • Biss legislation would end lawsuits against inmates for room and board

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  • Collins expands access to expungement, sealing of records

    collins 053116SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) has secured passage of legislation that expands and eases access to the legal process for the expungement and sealing of criminal records – a major hurdle for individuals seeking to gain employment and move on with their lives after an encounter with the criminal justice system. The measure lifts a ban on expungement petitions by people with prior but unrelated criminal records, eliminates all fees for juveniles applying for expungements and waives fees for individuals in Cook County who were wrongfully arrested or convicted and now seek expungement.

    “For the sake of justice, we must end this practice of charging individuals money to clear their names and move on with their lives when our criminal justice system has concluded they did not commit the crime for which they were arrested,” Collins said. “Illinois is suffering from a shortfall in revenue, but if our solution involves picking the pockets of the poor and wrongly accused, we have more than a fiscal problem; we have a moral problem.”

    The fee to petition for expungement in Cook County is $120. Collins hopes to expand her pilot program to Illinois’ other counties, where fees can be as high as $400. House Bill 6328, which Collins worked with Representative Art Turner and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to craft, would waive fees for juvenile expungement requests statewide. There would be no fee for adults petitioning in Cook County when the individual was arrested but then released without being charged, the charges were dropped or a criminal conviction was reversed. According to Sheriff Dart, 19 percent of those detained in the Cook County Jail at any given time are released after the charges against them are dropped. Finally, the legislation allows individuals to petition for expungement of a new arrest or charge, even if they already had a criminal record.

    “These reforms speak to the fundamentals of our justice system, which is based on evidence, not assumptions,” Collins said. “Limiting access to those with no prior record is a policy based on stereotypes and fear, not facts. We must reject laws that create a population assumed to be a criminal class – chained to their past arrest records, always under suspicion and perpetually poor.”

    HB 6328 has cleared both chambers and now goes to the governor’s desk.

  • Collins’ criminal justice reforms signed into law

    CollinsApril2016Measures address expungement, park district employment and cost of inmate phone calls

    CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) announced today that the governor has signed into law several pieces of legislation she sponsored that are part of a larger criminal justice reform agenda in Illinois. The measures help people have their arrest records expunged for crimes they did not commit, give park districts greater discretion to hire non-violent ex-offenders and cap the cost of inmate phone calls to keep family members affected by incarceration in touch with one another.

    “By ending the practice of allowing for-profit contractors to charge exorbitant rates for inmate phone calls, we are enabling families to stay connected,” Collins said. “And by granting park districts discretion to hire more ex-offenders who have turned their lives around, we continue the process of opening up employment opportunities to a chronically unemployed sector of our population.”

  • Collins’ violence prevention measures become law

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  • Harmon measure giving ex-offenders fair access to employment, housing signed into law

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  • Measure to provide more resources to address mental health becomes law

    FingerprintsSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues will become more streamlined due to legislation being signed into law.

    “We need to make resources readily available to ensure the mental health of anyone determined to be unfit to stand trial are dealt with appropriately,” State Senator Bill Cunningham said.

    The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

  • New Hunter law streamlines criminal record sealing

    hunter 082517SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to streamline the sealing of criminal records, a new law backed by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) will allow a defendant to immediately petition for the sealing of arrests or charges following an acquittal or dismissal of a case.

    “This bill is a step in the right direction toward correcting unfair practices in our criminal justice system,” said Hunter. “Far too many people deal with the consequences of an unfair judicial system after being wrongfully convicted.”

    House Bill 514 provides that following acquittal or dismissal, a defendant must be informed by the court of the petition procedure and his or her eligibility for immediate sealing of the records. A petition may then be brought by the defendant's attorney, and decisions concerning the immediate sealing of records may be made at the very same hearing.

    In the event that the petition is not granted, the petitioner, State's Attorney or State Police may file a motion to vacate, modify, or reconsider the order of the petition to immediately seal the records within 60 days of service of the order denying the original petition.

    House Bill 514, however, will not impede on a person's right to petition for sealing of these charges at a later date.

    This legislation becomes effective immediately.

  • Raoul measure targeting repeat gun offenders passes Senate

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  • Raoul reflects on five years since abolition of death penalty

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  • Raoul: help ex-offenders get state IDs

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  • Raoul: Measure aiding re-entry for ex-offenders signed into law

    raoul 111716CHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) joined a number of elected officials at A Safe Haven, a transitional housing facility, for the signing of legislation that ensures a person being released from Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice receives a state identification card. Raoul released the following statement on Senate Bill 3368:

    “We are taking a step forward into guiding ex-offenders upon release to successful reintegration by working in a bipartisan fashion to provide them a tool we all commonly use, an identification card.

  • Raoul: We need a comprehensive approach to violence

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  • Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priority

    Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priorityThousands of police body cameras will hit the streets in the new year under major reforms sponsored by Senate Democrats in an effort to increase public accountability and confidence in the wake of scandals and unrest.

    The new law, Senate Bill 1304, takes effect Jan. 1 and sets the official parameters for the use of police body cameras, increases training and reporting requirements for officers and clarifies the public’s right to access the videos. It is one of several key criminal and social justice reforms enacted by Senate Democrats in 2015, covering everything from protecting students’ educational rights to common-sense consumer laws aiding women trying to escape domestic violence.

    “We’ve made great strides this year in defending the public’s right to be properly protected, with justice for all,” said State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Hyde Park Democrat who emerged as one of the state’s leading reform advocates.

  • Senate Democrats: Bail decisions should not be based on ability to pay

    bail reformToday, a new law passed by the Senate to base bail decisions on a defendant’s threat to public safety and flight risk rather than their ability to pay bail became law. The Bail Reform Act of 2017, sponsored by State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), was signed by the governor and goes into effect immediately.

    “Pretrial release must not focus on the defendants’ ability to pay,” said Trotter. “This new law allows the courts to look at the threat to the public safety or their risk of failure to appear.”

    Senate Bill 2034 grants a number of rights to defendants, including the right to a public defender or attorney at their bail hearing, the right to a new bail hearing, and that any bail set should be non-monetary and that the court should address the risk in the least restrictive way possible.

  • Top 5 New State Laws on Social & Criminal Justice Reform

    Top 5 New State Laws on Social & Criminal Justice Reform

    Illinois passed several new laws last year dealing with reforming the state's social and criminal justice system, including establishing guidelines for the use of police body cameras. Many of these laws take effect in the new year. Click below to learn more.

     

     

     

     

     

  • Trotter measure demanding payment of exoneree claims passes Senate

    trotter 051917SPRINGFIELD – Today, legislation meant to create a continuous fund for claims by people wrongfully imprisoned passed the Senate. Senate Bill 1993 is vital to keep up these court-ordered claim payments. It has been nearly three years since the Illinois Court of Claims stopped paying these claims because of the budget stalemate.

    The passing of this legislation through the Senate is only the first step in properly restoring court-ordered claims payments for those who have been unjustly sentenced to time behind bars. The budget impasse in Illinois has stopped the claim payments of 20 exonerated inmates owned a total of $3.4 million. Their suffering was caused by the failure of the justice system to properly dispense rulings, but if this bill passes the House we are one step closer to providing those exonerated with some closure and monetary compensation.  

    State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the bill, has called the legislation an important step in providing equity for people unjustly held in the penal system that have won in court:

    “This is a critical piece of legislation that passed out of the Illinois Senate. It is our duty to ensure that those receiving claims for being unjustly incarcerated are compensated. These court-ordered claims can be used to rebuild their lives torn apart by convictions that never should have occurred. We need to be accountable to those that have been wronged by the penal system and found favorable claim rulings in a court of law. These court-ordered funds give relief to those who have been wrongly incarcerated in a timely manner. ”

    Senator Donne E. Trotter is a Chicago Democrat and leading advocate for justice reform.