State Senator Robert Peters

SPRINGFIELD – Using a law he previously sponsored as a foundation, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) is looking to expand civics education for re-entering citizens to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

“Many of the kids set to be released from IDJJ custody are doing so at a time in their lives when they’ll be legally recognized as adults for the first time, and a lot of new rights and privileges become available to them,” Peters said. “A person doesn’t lose access to those rights just because they were locked up, so it’s important to ensure that everyone knows what their rights are, how they can work to protect them, and the ways in which they can exercise them if they choose to do so.”

Senate Bill 2116 is an expansion of the Re-Entering Civics Education Act, a measure Peters sponsored that became law in 2019. The act required the Department of Corrections to provide civics education containing information around voting rights, government institutions, and simulations of the electoral and voting process to anyone who was scheduled to be released from custody within the next 12 months. The newest proposal expands this requirement to the Department of Juvenile Justice as well.

“Many generations of our ancestors fought and died to protect these civic rights, so everyone deserves to know what they are,” Peters said.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Senate approved the measure without opposition. Its next stop is the House of Representatives.