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CHICAGO — A joint committee heard feedback from witnesses on what the current state of criminal justice reform in Illinois.

The hearing was called by co-chairs State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) of the Senate Criminal Law Committee, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) of the new Senate Public Safety Special Committee and State Representative Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago) of the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee.

“Hearing all sides of the issue is crucial to working toward a system that is fair and just,” Sims said. “We have to work together to develop a focused strategy. That is the only way we will protect our communities, ensure fairness in sentencing and allow for life after prison.”

The committee heard from two panels, one focused on the pretrial experience, and the other on sentencing. Witness testimony came from Total Administrative Services Corporation, the Illinois Justice Project, multiple county state’s attorneys, a Sheriff’s Representative, the Illinois Department of Corrections, ACLU-Illinois, Restore Justice, police departments and persons directly affected by the current state of the criminal justice system in Illinois.

“This was a unique opportunity to have a deep conversation about how we can reimagine and win real safety and a more just system for people in all parts of Illinois,” Peters said. “What we need to do going forward is think about how we’re going to lift up our communities together. That’s why it was so important for us to dive into the facts and also hear the stories of those who live within this system.”

The hearing centered on various criminal justice reform issues, including cash bail and victim protection.

“There is a historical perspective here. As a black caucus member we have long advocated for criminal justice reform,” Slaughter said. “Many of the topics are not new, but came out of the bi-partisan report from the last administration and current efforts. I am pleased to see we are continuing this work by taking a comprehensive, holistic approach to improving our criminal justice system.”