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Author Topic: Joint Legislative Criminal Justice Reform Committee Meeting Sept23 - IMPORTANT  (Read 27257 times)

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Offline Forevermah

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There will be a meeting with the Joint Legislative Criminal Justice Committee on Sentencing Reform/Elderly for anyone on:

July 15,2014
6th floor, James Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph
Chicago. Illinois
Time: 2PM



This meeting/hearing on the 15th, will be testimony on this issue from IDOC only.


A future meeting/hearing/s will be devoted to the general public/victim families testimony and for this hearing we would like to have many attend, IPT will post the date for that and any future hearings in this topic. This will be your chance to have your voices heard and get involved, save the date and plan on it.


Please contact your state legislators by phone or writing and let them know your concerns on these issues and also contact the Committee Members ..  Rep Michael Zalewski, (D-23 ) Riverside, Sen. Michael Noland, Rep. Arthur Turner (D-9) Chicago, Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) Chicago, Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-5) Chicago and the full list is below.




PLEASE read the testimony of Bill Ryan in pdf,  just click on this link to read it all:













 Committee members:

CO-chairs: Rep Michael Zalewski, (D-23 ) Riverside
                   Sen. Michael Noland   ( D- 22)Elgin

Rep.John Anthony (R-) Morris
Rep.Ken Dunkin (D-5) Chicago
Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-45) Addison
Rep. Arthur Turner (D-9) Chicago
Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) Chicago
Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-5) Chicago







We will post more information as we get it, please check back often.
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Offline Forevermah

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Just bringing this back up for anyone that is thinking about attending, it is this Tuesday, July 15th, 2PM.

This Morning on WBBM780.com Radio, Craig Delimire Interviewed State Rep. Michael Zalewski, just click on the link below for this interview, it was very interesting.

Changes need to be made and am hoping this committee can get the ball rolling, Tough on Crime isn't the way to go anymore:


This week on "At Issue" WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore interviews State Rep. Michael Zalewski, one of the leaders of a group of lawmakers who are starting to craft reforms of Illinois' justice system.

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/audio/wbbm-latest/
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Offline Forevermah

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State panel to tackle prisoner reduction

Mon, Jul 14, 2014

By Tony Arnold

A small panel of Illinois lawmakers meets this week with a lofty goal.  They want to find a way to reduce the prison population, cut down on recidivism - but still enforce strict laws.  IPR’s Tony Arnold reports.

 Illinois State Representative Mike Zalewski is gathering the committee to look at the big picture on prisons.

 They’ll discuss overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons - and the billion dollars they cost taxpayers each year.

 Zalewski says he’s tired of not doing anything about it.

 ZALEWSKI: I heard statistics somewhere that the average stay sometimes for a first-time marijuana user in the Department of Corrections is like 12 days if they don’t get an I-bond. 12 days. That’s insane.

 But low level drug offenses isn’t all Zalewski is looking at.

 He’ll also be bringing back one proposal that’s been debated for years - but never got enough support.

 It would send people convicted of certain gun crimes to prison for 3 years - end of story.

 No early release.

 But even though it hasn’t gotten enough Yes votes - it hasn’t gone away because Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy talks about it constantly.

 McCARTHY: Possession of a loaded firearm is not even considered a violent felony in the State of Illinois for sentencing purposes. Which is why you see the revolving door. Which is why you see people getting arrested with guns over and over again. Zalewski has carried bills for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel before. But with this gun bill - he’s up against some strong opponents.

 The National Rifle Association is one.

 They say lawful gun owners who improperly carry a gun and get caught would have to go away for three years.

 Many black lawmakers are also fighting it - saying just locking people up doesn’t truly address gun violence issues in their communities.

 Zalewski says a negotiated version might send someone to prison for less than 3 years...

 Or punish someone more on their first gun offense.

 ZALEWSKI: I think people are so worn out by my bill and by the budget problems we have. And they’re sick of seeing the Department of Corrections have these budget issues and having guys sleep in gymnasiums, there’s just a real appetite to, ‘Let’s do something.’

 Art Lurigio says it’s good to recognize that Illinois’ criminal justice system need to change...

 It’s just a matter of what that change is.

 He’s a psychology professor and criminologist at Loyola University.

 LURIGIO: Research suggests that it’s not the severity of the punishment that has a deterrent effect, but the certainty of punishment.

 Lurigio’s point is that research shows people with guns don’t necessarily worry about how long they’ll spend behind bars - it’s whether they’ll get caught.

 He says alternatives to prison can actually have more of a positive effect than locking up low-level criminals.

 LURIGIO: We’re keeping a lot of money to keep people locked up in prison. The time that they spend in prison is time away from them ever having an opportunity to change their life trajectory unless they’re fully engaged in services.

 That’s where Father David Kelly comes in.

 Because while Representative Zalewski and lawmakers are dealing with end of the criminal justice process - prisons - Father Kelly deals with the beginning of that process - kids who are getting in trouble.

 Kelly runs Precious Blood Ministries in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago.

 KELLY: These drums are used in the juvenile detention center. We do drumming circles at juvenile detention center. So I’m the chaplain at Cook County Juvenile, as well…(FADE)

 As he gives me a tour of the center - which is a former school…

 He shows me a clothes rack - with dress clothes for the teenagers who have upcoming court appearances.

 Precious Blood deals mostly with teens who have already been arrested and done time.

 Kelly says whatever the laws are that do pass - he wants to see more neighborhood programs.

 KELLY: Rather than harsher laws, harsher gun penalties, let’s punish our way out of this, I just don’t think there’s an end to that. I don’t think that will get us anywhere but fill our jails and prisons and then take the minimum resources we do have here in the community away.

 Kelly says the young people he interacts with now - are the ones statistics show are going to end up testing out the laws Representative Zalewski is thinking of changing. And the best way to make sure they don’t end up testing those laws and getting arrested - doesn’t come from legislators - but from getting more people in the community involved. 


http://m.peoriapublicradio.org/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F#mobile/26459
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Offline Forevermah

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Today is the Joint Legislative Criminal Justice Reform Committee Meeting


July 15,2014
6th floor, James Thompson Center
100 W. Randolph
Chicago. Illinois
Time: 2PM



Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



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Offline Forevermah

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IPT MEMBERS NEED TO GET INVOLVED!!

Our Member Bill made this post on the Elderly Bill Board yesterday:


"I suggest IPTers contact joint committee members whose members are listed on previous pages.

This committee really needs to hear from family members. telling your story. i think this committee will recommend some changes but how many and what is not known.

Contact members tell them of your and your LO's experiences with IDOC.

If questions please let me know."

http://www.illinoisprisontalk.org/index.php?topic=30638.msg249889#msg249889






This is the list of Committee members that Bill is suggesting people  contact by phone or writing, do it now!!

 Committee members:

CO-chairs: Rep Michael Zalewski, (D-23 ) Riverside
                   Sen. Michael Noland   ( D- 22)Elgin

Rep.John Anthony (R-) Morris
Rep.Ken Dunkin (D-5) Chicago
Rep. Dennis Reboletti (R-45) Addison
Rep. Arthur Turner (D-9) Chicago
Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13) Chicago
Sen. Patricia Van Pelt (D-5) Chicago
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



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Offline Forevermah

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Illinois lawmakers take testimony on prisons

2 hours ago


CHICAGO (AP) — A legislative committee is gathering information on ways to address Illinois' prison population.

The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee heard more than three hours of testimony Tuesday in Chicago during its first meeting.

The bipartisan committee will also look at how to reduce racial disparities in sentencing and the number of people released from prison who commit new crimes.

Rep. Mike Zalewski (zuh-LEH'-skee) is a Riverside Democrat who pushed to create the committee. He says he wants efforts to be data driven. The group is expected to release recommendations at year's end. Zalewski says he hopes that also means some legislation.

Those who testified included Illinois Department of Corrections officials who raised concerns about the growing number of geriatric inmates. Lake County authorities also discussed issues for mentally-ill inmates.

http://jg-tc.com/news/state-and-regional/illinois-lawmakers-take-testimony-on-prisons/article_bca2eda5-ff84-59fa-9d10-9bdadacfe560.html
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Offline Forevermah

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Panel to debate gun laws, how to reduce Illinois prison population

July 15, 2014
By: Tony Arnold


A small panel of Illinois lawmakers meets this week with a lofty goal. It wants to find a way to reduce the prison population, cut down on recidivism, but still enforce strict laws.A small panel of Illinois lawmakers meets this week with a lofty goal. It wants to find a way to reduce the prison population, cut down on recidivism, but still enforce strict laws.

Illinois State Rep. Mike Zalewski is gathering the committee to look at the big picture on prisons. They’ll discuss overcrowding in Illinois’ prisons and the billion dollars they cost taxpayers each year. Zalewski said he’s tired of not doing anything about it.

“I heard statistics somewhere that the average stay sometimes for a first-time marijuana user in the Department of Corrections is like 12 days if they don’t get an I-bond. 12 days. That’s insane,” he said in an interview at his downtown Chicago law office.

But low level drug offenses isn’t all Zalewski is looking at. He’ll also be bringing back one proposal that’s been debated for years, but never got enough support. A previous version of the proposal would’ve send people convicted of certain gun crimes to prison for three years, end of story. No early release.

But even though it hasn’t gotten enough ‘yes’ votes, it hasn’t gone away because Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy talks about it constantly.

“Possession of a loaded firearm is not even considered a violent felony in the State of Illinois for sentencing purposes,” McCarthy told reporters last week. “Which is why you see the revolving door. Which is why you see people getting arrested with guns over and over again.”

Zalewski has carried bills for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel before. But with this gun bill, he’s up against some strong opponents.

The National Rifle Association is one. They say lawful gun owners who improperly carry a gun and get caught would have to go away for three years.

Many black lawmakers are also fighting it, saying just locking people up doesn’t truly address gun violence issues in their communities.

Zalewski says a negotiated version might send someone to prison for less than three years, or punish someone more on their first gun offense.

“I think people are so worn out by my bill and by the budget problems we have,” Zalewski said. “And they’re sick of seeing the Department of Corrections have these budget issues and having guys sleep in gymnasiums, there’s just a real appetite to, ‘Let’s do something.’”

Art Lurigio says it’s good to recognize that Illinois’ criminal justice system need to change. It’s just a matter of what that change is.

“Research suggests that it’s not the severity of the punishment that has a deterrent effect, but the certainty of punishment,” said Lurigio, a psychology professor and criminologist at Loyola University.

Lurigio’s point is that research shows people with guns don’t necessarily worry about how long they’ll spend behind bars, it’s whether they’ll get caught. He said alternatives to prison can actually have more of a positive effect than locking up low-level criminals.

“We’re keeping a lot of money to keep people locked up in prison,” he said. “The time that they spend in prison is time away from them ever having an opportunity to change their life trajectory unless they’re fully engaged in services.

That’s where Father David Kelly comes in.

Because while Rep. Zalewski and lawmakers are dealing with end of the criminal justice process - prisons - Father Kelly deals with the beginning of that process: kids who are getting in trouble.

“These drums are used in the juvenile detention center. We do drumming circles at juvenile detention center. So I’m the chaplain at Cook County Juvenile, as well,” said Kelly, who runs Precious Blood Ministries in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago.

As he gives me a tour of the center, which is a former school, he shows me a clothes rack with dress clothes for the teenagers who have upcoming court appearances. Precious Blood deals mostly with teens who have already been arrested and done time.

Kelly said whatever the laws are that do pass, he wants to see more neighborhood programs.

“Rather than harsher laws, harsher gun penalties, let’s punish our way out of this, I just don’t think there’s an end to that,” Kelly said. “ I don’t think that will get us anywhere but fill our jails and prisons and then take the minimum resources we do have here in the community away.”

Kelly said the young people he interacts with now are the ones statistics show are going to end up testing out the laws Rep. Zalewski is thinking of changing. And the best way to make sure they don’t end up testing those laws and getting arrested doesn’t come from legislators, but from getting more people in the community involved.


http://www.wbez.org/news/panel-debate-gun-laws-how-reduce-illinois-prison-population-110496
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Offline Forevermah

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The hearing yesterday focused on IDOC testimony from S.A. Godinez, Director IDOC, Kathy Saltmarsh/Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Board and John Maki, John Howard Association.  It included lots of data, discussion about non violent low level offenders, use of risk assessments/costs.

The next hearing is August 19th, we will post on topic and times etc.

Rep. Micheal Zawleski and Rep. Michael Nolan need to hear from families of inmates, NOW.  

Anyone wanting to submit testimony should contact them, now is your chance to get involved, everyone always says, I wish there was something *I* could do, well now there is!!!!

If you have questions, you can contact our member Bill by private message and ask your questions.

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Offline jejordan2014

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What kinds of information are they wanting to know about?? I want to help do my part just not sure what they really want to know about.
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Offline Jennyc72

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I would be happy to help, it's my first time at this so please give me information on how to go about this. Thank you for all you do for inmates.

Offline chantygirl

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There's another post on this topic, that includes a testimony by Bill Ryan.  If you read his testimony, it's a great example.


Offline Forevermah

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There's another post on this topic, that includes a testimony by Bill Ryan.  If you read his testimony, it's a great example.



Thanks chantygirl !

Here is that link for Bill's Testimony:

http://www.illinoisprisontalk.org/pdf/jointcomm2014.pdf



Also urge these Committee Members to visit prison inmates both men and women to get their concerns about things like possibly more programs for inmates, more help for them when they get out, more people allowed good time, better healthcare etc. etc. etc.
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Offline Khamp

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How do I get a committee members email address to write to them?

Offline chantygirl

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How do I get a committee members email address to write to them?

repzalewski@gmail.com is Representative Zalewski (The Co-Chair of the committee) email address.

Offline Forevermah

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You should also write or at least cc the other reps. we will try to get all of their emails.
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Offline Khamp

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Thank you so much. Do I just tell them my story about my husband? The reason I am asking is because I am a little bit confused.
The county where we live had given him a plea of 150 in county and a fine. The public defender told us not to take the plea. He
ended up with 3 years.

Offline Forevermah

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Rep. Michael Zawleski     repzalewski@gmail.com

Rep. Michael  Noland       info@noland.org

Rep.John Anthony           

Rep.Ken Dunkin

Rep. Dennis Reboletti

Rep. Arthur Turner

Sen. Kwame Raoul

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline Forevermah

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Thank you so much. Do I just tell them my story about my husband? The reason I am asking is because I am a little bit confused.
The county where we live had given him a plea of 150 in county and a fine. The public defender told us not to take the plea. He
ended up with 3 years.


Yes, tell them the story of what happened and your suggestions about rehab versus prison.
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Offline Khamp

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Ok thank you so much. You are such a kind person. :wc38:

Offline Forevermah

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Thank you too!!
Do not value the "things" you have in your life - value "who" you have in your life....



“Instead of thinking about what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.”

Offline onesadmomma

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Can I ask if you think of participating in something like this puts our inmate at risk for further scrutiny and possible ramifications? Where in Chicago where Illinois has a minimum mandatory prison sentence of roughly 3 years for any possession of ecstasy and yet recently a person who helped dispose of a dead body received 18 months probation. Low-level first-time drug offender three years dump a dead body probation Illinois couldn't be more out of sync with the definition of the word justice then we currently are but I'm a little hesitant to think about participating because I just want my son to come home and I'm a little leery that participating in something like this cast undue light on him within the ideal see any thoughts or opinions?



Offline chantygirl

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I don't believe participating in this will put our inmates in harms way, or cause them ramifications.  We aren't contacting IDOC with this information, and you in no way have to give your l/o's name.  I definitely did not give my l/o's name, or what he's serving time for.  And it's not like we're emailing them and begging them to do something for our loved one in particular.  What they want, is ideas and suggestions on what can be done to fix the problem of overcrowding, as well as other issues that we wish to bring up.  While I realize that we all want things that will benefit our loved ones, this is about IDOC as a whole, and not necessarily about our l/o's case.  What we have to keep in mind, is that when the population is reduced, or new legislation is introduced, it helps everyone in one way shape or form.  Even if our l/o is serving life without parole, and has no chance of release.. Reducing the prison population makes their stay a little more bearable.

Offline Forevermah

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Want to reduce violent crime in Chicago? Cut prison sentences

By Rich Miller July 21, 2014



A brazen afternoon armed robbery of passengers on an Orange Line el train. A hundred people shot in a week. Thirty people shot in 13 hours.

Can part of the answer really be to lower some state criminal penalties? Yep, and the reasons are pretty simple.

We're not locking up enough truly dangerous people for long enough. Doing so would put a monumental strain on our already horribly crowded prison system. Short of finding state money to build and staff more prisons (and there isn't any), we've got to clear some room for the truly bad guys.

The state inmate population has risen 10 percent over the past decade, to 48,819 at the end of June from 44,379 at the end of June 2004. Gov. Pat Quinn asked for a $100 million increase in the Department of Corrections' budget this year, but because of disagreement in Springfield over the income tax increase, the department's budget has remained flat at about $1.2 billion.

The idea that we're locking up too many people for too long is starting to catch on with voters, too. A July 15 Rasmussen Results LLC poll found that a plurality of likely voters, 44 percent, agree that there are too many Americans in prison. Only 31 percent disagree.

In Washington, liberal Democratic Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey and libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky are working across the great partisan divide to reform overly harsh sentencing policies.

As usual, Illinois has lagged behind this fast-moving national trend.

Back in the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Justice offered states grant money if they increased criminal penalties and kept people in prison much longer, explains Kathy Saltmarsh, executive director of the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, a state agency. Illinois increased penalties on a wide range of crimes, but the grant money was paltry and eventually was cut off. So taxpayers got stuck holding the bag.

And now we are stuck with a prison system bulging at the seams, not enough correctional officers to staff it and the state's largest city on edge.

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel accomplished the impossible, working out a deal with the National Rifle Association on a bill in the Illinois General Assembly to toughen penalties for gun-related crimes. But the bill unexpectedly was killed by the House Black Caucus, which used a parliamentary procedure to block passage.

Since most gun crimes happen in districts represented by Black Caucus members, you'd think they'd be the last people to stand in the way of the bill.

But African-American legislators also represent an outsized group of folks caught up in the state's harsh criminal penalties. They were sick and tired of penalty enhancement bills and wanted reform. They also pointed to the huge cost of the proposal, sponsored by Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside. Coming up with that money most certainly meant cuts to programs that black legislators hold dear.

After the anger and finger-pointing finally died down, Mr. Zalewski and African-American legislators from Chicago like Sen. Kwame Raoul and Reps. Art Turner and Ken Dunkin started hashing things out.

Along with Republicans like Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Addison, they decided to try to handle this issue the same way that legislators finally dealt with pensions. The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee was formed and members held their first hearing July 15.

The idea is to lower some penalties and sentencing requirements at least enough to pay for Mr. Emanuel's proposal—and maybe even more, since crowding is such a huge issue. Mr. Quinn has been working behind the scenes with the committee. His Republican rival, Bruce Rauner, says in a statement, “For certain types of crimes and offenders, there can be a place for alternative sentencing.”

Like the pension reform plan, the committee is relying heavily on data and actuaries. Come up with an idea and then let the number-crunchers tell you how much you'll save.

That sort of thing takes a while, but the committee wants to finish by January. The odds are heavily against them, but Illinois really needs to start catching up with the rest of the country.

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140719/ISSUE01/307199969/want-to-reduce-violent-crime-in-chicago-cut-prison-sentences#
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http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/free-some-older-nonviolent-longtime-prisoners-activist/tue-07222014-307pm

Free some older, nonviolent, longtime prisoners: activist

Tue, 07/22/2014 - 10:07am
Thomas Frisbie


Should prisoners over age 50 who have served at least 25 years have a chance to get parole?

The Illinois Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee is holding hearings on prison crowding and sentencing, and here is part of what prison-reform activist Bill Ryan plans to tell the committee on Aug. 19, the second of the committee's hearings (the first was July 15). Ryan belongs to several groups, including the Illinois Institute for Community Law, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression-Chicago and Project 1-11, and he  is a co-founder of Stateville Speaks, an Illinois prison newspaper now in its 10th year.

Quotes from his planned testimony. :

-- "During the past 20 years I have come to know many elderly men and women in prison. I consider many of them good friends. Many have reformed themselves and present no threat to anybody. There are others who should not be released. I am convinced that a human being is more than the worst thing he or she has done."

-- "In Illinois, there are about 49,000 people in prison and another 25,000 on parole. About 60 percent of people released come back within three years. This is a failing system."

-- "Currently there are about 800 men and women who meet these criteria. (Twenty years ago there were 32.) If 100 of the 800 eligible people were to earn parole, the state would reduce expenditures by $7.5 million."

-- "Some victims’ families, supported by prosecutors, are opposed to any kind of sentence review. There are other victims’ families who support the Elderly Bill. Please remember in your deliberations that there is no one voice for crime victims’ family members."

-- "With savings from a reduced prison population, money could be directed toward crime victims’ needs—toward helping to restore broken families and communities, toward good rather than harm."

 Ryan previously testified on March 4 about HB 3668, a bill that would have given older prisoners a chance to get parole. He hopes that idea will be part of any new legislation. The committee hopes to have legislation to deal with prison crowding and disparate racial sentencing drawn up by December so it can be voted on in the Legislature's veto session, he said.

Earlier this month, Gov. Pat Quinn outlined his hopes for the legislation, saying, "As I've made clear, it is necessary to take a comprehensive approach to public safety that includes stronger gun laws such as those included in the Public Safety Act, smarter sentencing reforms and greater investments in proven re-entry and diversion programs as I proposed in this year's budget."

Co-chair state Rep. Michael Zalewski pushed to form the committee during the spring legislative session.

Read a Feb. 13 Chicago Sun-Times editorial headlined "Take a new look at cost of keeping old prisoners" here.

Offline Forevermah

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The next meeting for the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee on Sentencing Reform will be on:


8/19/2014  -  10:00 AM 
C600 Michael A. Bilandic Building
Chicago, IL
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Offline Forevermah

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Notes provided by Project I-11 for the meeting on July 15th

Legislative Activity

Adopted on May 30, 2014, the newly formed Criminal Justice Reform Committee held its first meeting to a packed house in Chicago on July 15.

Co-chairs Rep. Michael Zalewski (D-Riverside) and Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin) chaired the meeting. The speakers were Salvador Godinez, director of IDOC; Kathy Saltmarsh, executive director of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council; John Maki, executive director of John Howard Association; Cara Smith, executive director of Cook County Jail; and Raymond Rose, undersheriff of Lake County.

This three-hour hearing was devoted to numbers, data, research – how many prisoners we have, who they are, how much they cost; and what programs should be established to reduce the prison population and lower costs. Most suggestions were aimed at assisting short-termers and the overlapping group of nonviolent prisoners. Nevertheless, Rep. Turner asked important questions about the rising and increasingly expensive group of elderly prisoners, who are largely long-termers convicted of violent crimes.

Kathy Saltmarsh provided the analytical basis for arguing that parole for long-termers is necessary, by informing the committee that the State must move out some long-termers now serving sentences if it wishes to reduce the prison population; decreasing sentences for those convicted down the road or shortening sentences for short-termers or is not enough.

All speakers, and even the Committee members, seemed united in the belief that something must be done to bring down the prison population, and that right-minded remedies such as reentry programs and community-based diversion programs are necessary. Yet Committee members also spoke of the fear of voter backlash when someone released early commits a high-profile crime, and they noted, not always with sureness, that tremendous courage was necessary to withstand the negative criticism. The Committee expects to hold further meetings, and will ask for testimony from the public at some point. Currently, their report is due by December 1.







August 19 Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee meeting

The next hearing of Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee is on August 19, at 10 am, on the 6th floor (C-600) of the Bilandic Building. The address is 160 North LaSalle Street, Chicago.

Committee members are interested in sentencing reform in order to reduce violence, decrease prison population, and make sentencing more just and effective. The Committee needs to hear your concerns and suggestions. Please attend this hearing as well as contact the committee members. Members and contact info can be found on General Assembly website.
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Offline Forevermah

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Meeting today for the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee on Sentencing Reform:


8/19/2014  -  10:00 AM
C600 Michael A. Bilandic Building
Chicago, IL
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Offline jaf

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Meeting today for the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee on Sentencing Reform:


8/19/2014  -  10:00 AM
C600 Michael A. Bilandic Building
Chicago, IL

Thanks for the reminder!   

We should be able to listen in (or watch, if you're lucky enough to have good internet speed!) by following the links on this page:

http://www.ilga.gov/house/audvid.asp

Offline jaf

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Gosh, that was a snoozer. 

What a waste of busy people's time.   
Did anyone else listen?  I was working, so I might have missed the "new"  stuff, did I?  I kind of hope I did miss something worthwhile!

I hope they do better next time - Sept 23, 10 am.

Offline Forevermah

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Gosh, that was a snoozer. 

What a waste of busy people's time.   
Did anyone else listen?  I was working, so I might have missed the "new"  stuff, did I?  I kind of hope I did miss something worthwhile!

I hope they do better next time - Sept 23, 10 am.

It wasn't a snoozer, guess when you are there, it's way different than when you listen and may not catch it all.  It was a very long meeting today going over by nearly an hour!  Lots of testimony.

 Hopefully changes will be made when all these hearings conclude and the committee comes forward using the many suggestions/information to come up with new legislation to help.  At least they have started and all realize change has to be made!
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Offline jaf

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Were you there?   What did I miss?

I'm thrilled that these hearings are happening and I pray that they are able to accomplish something.

Bill Ryan was the only one who actually offered any constructive suggestions today.  The others I heard just went through the statistics again, from some other angles. 

Rep. Reboleti felt the need to remind them a few more times that certain judges in Cook county had been sentencing guys to boot camp who did not legally qualify to go there.  And they again assured him they have that under control.

I did learn that there are 100 guys on cots in gyms at 2 different facilities again - or still.  Stateville and Danville.  100 guys sharing one bathroom!  Wow. 

Anita Alverez (Cook Co. State's Attorney) just wanted to talk about HB 4091 which was something the committee thought should be brought back to be discussed on its own.  She did say that 63% of people who were charged with a felon possessing a fire arm will re-offend.  Also, these people are 4x more likely to commit a homicide.   These statistics were presented to back up her desire to INCREASE penalties for all gun offenses.  She says they're not scary enough now, and that's why they're not working.

And again we got to hear how understaffed IDOC is. 
And again hear the statistics on how many are waiting for ABE or GED classes or job training.   

Maybe those Legislators needed to hear it all again. . .  OH, but there weren't even very many there to hear it.  There wasn't even a quorum. 

Offline Forevermah

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Yes, I was there and there was testimony that they want to expand on and hear more about.  It's going to take many of these meetings, maybe being told things over and over so that they *get* it and know what needs to be put into this legislation. The legislators don't really know, but the prosecturos/judges/IDOC/defense attorneys etc. others do and it has to be told.

They invited Anita Alverez to come back, she didn't only talk about HB 4091 and  they wanted others to come back, they wanted to hear more about the suggestion of  reform for the grand jury and more.  There was good that came out of this meeting.

Bill Ryan did give testimony which was great about the Elderly Bill and did you hear the States Attorney that made it a point to say that we should not let everyone over 50 out of prison?  Where was he when that was talked about before, he was told that letting everyone over 50 was not going to happen, I guess he forgot that and had to be told again.  They stressed that any inmate in for 25 years or more and the age of 50, would have to go through both the PRB and the IDOC before being let out and that wasn't going to be an easy process.


There were States Attorney's from other counties that spoke too, talking about the other things/programs they are doing to keep people out of jail, giving people a chance before just being thrown in prison and they wanted to hear more from them.

Nothing moves quickly with this kind of thing, it isn't the way it works, but they have started and that is a good thing.  They need to hear it ALL so that they can write the right legislation/laws, so that the population starts to subside instead of increase.  

Current stats: 49,000 in prison 25,000 on parole.

If the stats on how many are waiting to take GED classes and understaffing of IDOC helps them get the legislation written to HELP, then that is good.

Did you hear the part about them having to decrease more and more classes/programs and inmates because there isn't enough money to continue to have them so eventually there isn't going to be anything for these men/women. What kind of rehabilitation can they offer, if they have nothing for these men/women, can funds be freed up from throwing everyone in prison to help those that really should go to rehab, so the revolving door stops.

There are guys on cots in the gym at Danville and women on cots in the gym at Logan and this is why they need to get this done, have as many meetings with as much information/suggestions they can gather to get this legislation right so that it helps and know it's not going to take just one or two meetings, the more the better.


Just adding here:  something else that was talked about alot today was mandatory sentencing and how that to some really needs to be changed.  

It costs $38,000 a year on average to house an inmate and $75,000 for an elderly inmate, there are 800 inmates over 50 in IDOC now.

Alverez talked about HB 4091, HB 3771 amd HB 3773.

They talked about statewide police/prison etc records, so that when someone is stopped anywhere in the state, they can instantly see his record throughout the state, if he is on probation anywhere and much more.

In a perfect state with all the money to work all these programs, they could do alot, but with limited funds, it's not as easy to implement all the things they want to do, they talked about this too.
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Offline jaf

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Oh yeah, that one guy went on and on about how they can't just let every one out when they hit 50 if they'd served 25 years. 

What the heck?  Who ever told him that anyone wanted to do that? 

But you're right, it's always a process.  It seems like we have to hear the extremes like this guy, and then the extremes from the other end, and hopefully end up somewhere in the middle, , , leaning towards the end we'd like to see it end.

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There is another meeting on September 23rd and anyone can attend and give testimony, public is welcome, of course they give testimony last, it's all a process and an interesting one at that if you have never seen anything like this.
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Offline trauma4us

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No offense but our capital is Springfield not Chicago.  Those of us with jobs that live mid state and those that live downstate are completely out of this loop.  Have they ever considered having meetings elsewhere?

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No offense but our capital is Springfield not Chicago.  Those of us with jobs that live mid state and those that live downstate are completely out of this loop.  Have they ever considered having meetings elsewhere?

I totally agree.  At least half of these meetings need to be in Springfield!

Offline zachsmom

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Mah- Thanks for giving us a detailed account of what took place at that meeting. My being out of State, and completely out of the loop, with no possibility of being able to attend, it was nice to hear about what went on from someone that was actually there, and not just from a news reporter.

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No offense but our capital is Springfield not Chicago.  Those of us with jobs that live mid state and those that live downstate are completely out of this loop.  Have they ever considered having meetings elsewhere?

Contact the Reps on the Committee and let them know of your concerns.  They don't only have meetings on issues in Chicago at the state building/Thompson/Bilandic Center, been to the Springfield too for issues dealing with IDOC.

It looks like Sen. Noland and the other Reps are the ones that decided to tackle this issue and are all from Northern Illinois, probably why the meetings are up in Chicago, don't know if they have any scheduled for Springfield.
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Offline Forevermah

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Mah- Thanks for giving us a detailed account of what took place at that meeting. My being out of State, and completely out of the loop, with no possibility of being able to attend, it was nice to hear about what went on from someone that was actually there, and not just from a news reporter.

You are welcome, I am sure we will get even more accurate notes in a few days, that will be posted.
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Offline chantygirl

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Couldn't make it to the meeting yesterday.  I was bummed to find out the day of the meeting fell on the day I travelled down to Menard.  If I hadn't already told him I'd be here, I'd have swapped days.  But, thank you for the recall of events.  September 23rd I will mark on the calendar though!!  And just so everyone is aware, I'll be travelling from northern Indiana, and will be willing to pick up interested parties along the route!  (Or decently close to the route).

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One of the States Attorney's spoke about the programs they have implemented in the county/district, drug and other courts and a young man, they called  Joe. He was 20 and been in trouble for drugs and mental issues.  He was picked up for theft and was probably looking at time in IDOC. 

They diverted him into some of the programs they have established in their drug and other courts and got him the help he needs both for the addiction problem and his mental health issues and it payed off.  He is in college now doing very well, hasn't touched anything substances and he is on the right path now at the age of 23.


These are the type of programs we need, to help people instead of locking them and most get nothing inside, only to be released and repeat the process.   They are finding success with some with these programs and keeping them OUT of IDOC.

I believe they asked this witness for more information and to possibly come back too.



I know many here on IPT now, would have given anything for their LO to be able to go through programs like this instead of being inside IDOC now and on the other hand, the person in trouble has to want this and show that they are worthy of it, it would not be offered to just anyone. 
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Offline webmari

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Thank you Mah for the update. I so wished I could attend those meetings, but am too far away. I plan to come over towards fall or winter and if I do I will hope that I can pick a time when there is another meeting that I could attend. I can imagine that it will take lots of this kinds of meeting. But the fact that they started them and plan to continue is already a good thing!

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Thanks to Jaf too any one else that goes and reports back.  I am still waiting on some official notes and will post when we get them, especially on Bill Ryan's testimony on the Elderly Bill.
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The WHY of IL prison overcrowding

By Tony Arnold



Cook County’s state’s attorney wants stricter prison sentences for repeated gun offenders. But the county’s top public defender questions that.

A panel of state lawmakers are evaluating why Illinois’ prisons are overcrowded - and if the right people are behind bars. To find the answer, they heard testimony from Cook County’s top prosecutor Anita Alvarez. She says the right people are NOT in prison.

"These repeat gun offenders know and understand our system. Gang members themselves have told us that they think our gun laws are a joke."

Alvarez also wants to reduce the penalties for low level marijuana charges. But the county’s top public defender,  AC Cunningham says the prisons are overpopulated because of state policies - not because there’s more crime.

"Are we trying to rehabilitate, or are we trying to change society’s ills through incarceration?"

Lawmakers also heard complaints that someone driving on a suspended license can be put in prison longer than someone who hits a police officer.

http://peoriapublicradio.org/post/why-il-prison-overcrowding
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Offline Forevermah

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The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee was established to “examine the impact of current sentencing structure, ensure the enforcement and punishment of crime does not disproportionally or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic, or other groups, and develop solutions to address the issues that exist within the system.”

Given racial disparities in criminal sentencing and dire conditions inside Illinois prisons, the
formation of this committee seemed promising. But if the first public hearings are any indication, neither serious discussion nor broad public input will occur. The committee will hold more hearings before the final report is submitted in December, and I hope that the process improves dramatically.

At the two hearings I attended, suggested time frames were ignored, so most of the speakers had very little time. The disregard for time and structure was at odds with the purpose of public hearings: to provide a forum for many voices to be heard. I wanted to represent the voices and experiences of elderly people in prison, but my already meager amount of time (3-5 minutes) was cut in half.

Mass incarceration is a moral crisis. This committee needs to think expansively about how to
address a range of critical matters. How can we lower the recidivism rate? How can we
eliminate overcrowding? How can we prevent wrongful deaths and medical malfeasance inside
prisons? How can we eradicate the racial bias that occurs at every juncture of the system, from
surveillance to arrest to prosecution to sentencing? How can we align sentencing practices with
human rights standards?

I hope that we are at the beginning of an effort to fashion a criminal justice system driven by
fairness and democratic principles rather than fear and cynicism. Illinois can build on its
courageous decision to confront, rather than deny, the failures of the death penalty. We need
an honest assessment of what is happening to men, women, and teenagers in prison. The time
is now to redirect our resources and policies. I look forward to a more deliberative and fair
process at subsequent hearings.

Bill Ryan


Please Contact Committee Members and let them know your concerns, now is the time for comprehensive reform!!
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Offline jaf

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The next TWO meetings of this committee will also be held in Chicago (grrrr)

Sept 23rd at 10 am - - and Oct 14th at 1:30 pm   

they will be in room C600 at the  Bilandic Building
 

Offline Forevermah

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Re: Joint Legislative Criminal Justice Reform Committee Meeting Sept23 IMPORTANT
« Reply #46 on: September 22, 2014, 04:34:35 PM »

 





 

As Illinois' only non-partisan prison watchdog, the John Howard Association is part of a growing and diverse coalition of elected officials and policy advocates who believe that the country needs to safely reduce its use of incarceration.

 

In the past several years, conservatives have played a leading role in this movement, driving some of the most innovative and effective reform in the country.

 

JHA is proud to bring one of the leading conservative criminal justice reform leaders to Illinois, Marc Levin.

 

The Policy Director of Right on Crime, Levin's work has attracted the support of leading conservative figures, as he and his initiative advocate for reduced reliance on expensive prisons as a response to crime and more cost-effective approaches to enhancing public safety. POLITICO Magazine recently recognized Levin in its annual list of the nation's top 50 "key thinkers, doeers and dreamers reshaping American politics."

 

On Tuesday, September 23rd at 10 a.m., Levin will testify before the General Assembly's Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. Created earlier this year by a legislative resolution, the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee was directed "to examine the impact of the current sentencing structure, ensure that the enforcement and punishment of crimes do not disproportionately or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic, or minority groups, and develop solutions to address the issues that exist within the system."

 

You can listen to Levin's testimony at the time of hearing on the General Assembly's website: http://www.ilga.gov/senate/audvid.asp

 

In Chicago, you can watch Levin talk about his work on CLTV's Politics Tonight on Monday, September 22nd at 6 p.m.

 

On Tuesday morning at 9 a.m, Levin will be on WBEZ's The Morning Shift, which you can listen to on 91.5 FM in Chicago or online at www.wbez.org.

 
 

John Maki
Executive Director
John Howard Association
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Offline jaf

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It's almost time - if you're like me you might have wanted to listen but then completely forgot when the time came and went. . :)

Here's the info:

On Tuesday, September 23rd at 10 a.m., Levin will testify before the General Assembly's Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. Created earlier this year by a legislative resolution, the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee was directed "to examine the impact of the current sentencing structure, ensure that the enforcement and punishment of crimes do not disproportionately or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic, or minority groups, and develop solutions to address the issues that exist within the system."

You can listen to Levin's testimony at the time of hearing on the General Assembly's website: http://www.ilga.gov/senate/audvid.asp

Offline jaf

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oh yikes,  so far it's not coming up on the link below, but I just tried the link to the House.    This one is working:

http://www.ilga.gov/house/audvid.asp#

It's almost time - if you're like me you might have wanted to listen but then completely forgot when the time came and went. . :)

Here's the info:

On Tuesday, September 23rd at 10 a.m., Levin will testify before the General Assembly's Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. Created earlier this year by a legislative resolution, the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee was directed "to examine the impact of the current sentencing structure, ensure that the enforcement and punishment of crimes do not disproportionately or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic, or minority groups, and develop solutions to address the issues that exist within the system."

You can listen to Levin's testimony at the time of hearing on the General Assembly's website: http://www.ilga.gov/senate/audvid.asp


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Oh geez I panicked for nothing. . . it's on both now.   

(where's the cheesy grin icon?)

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Chicago mayor wants state to reform drug laws



By The Associated Press
Posted Sep. 23, 2014 @ 12:27 pm

    CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday asked state legislators to make possession of less than 1 gram of any controlled substance a misdemeanor in Illinois and possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana a ticketable offense.

    Emanuel said in a news release that the Illinois Legislature should reform sentencing laws for low-level drug offenses because it would save taxpayer money and let police focus on more serious crimes.

    "It doesn't make sense that one arrest for a very small amount of a controlled substance can lead to a lifetime of struggles, sending people in and out of prison and putting up barriers to getting a job or finding a place to live," Emanuel said. "We need action from Springfield."

    Chicago already has an ordinance that lets police write tickets for possession of as much as 15 grams of marijuana instead of making arrests.

    Emanuel, along with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, testified Tuesday before the House-Senate Joint Criminal Reform Committee. The bipartisan group of legislators is looking at overcrowding in the state's prisons and jails and how to reduce racial disparities in sentencing and the number of people released from prison who commit new crimes.


Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140923/News/140929787#ixzz3EAWx5Fy0
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Offline chantygirl

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I thought his testimony today was outstanding.  He gave some great suggestions, and sounded to me like he was offering to lend his voice to help pass the legislation (should any be drafted that suits his criteria).

Offline jaf

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Today's hearing was pretty powerful.   

I really loved Marc Levin.  Wow, that guy knows his stuff.  He talked so fast (like me :) ) so I really had to pay attention, and then to hear  s l o w   t a l k i n g   Senator Raul was a shocking change.  He seemed to be having a problem getting into it, too.  Or maybe it was just the contrast? 

 I thought Emanuel got a pretty slow start - at first I couldn't decide whether he didn't know what he was talking about or he was uninterested, perhaps he was reading?  But later in the question and answer part he got more believable.  He especially became convincing when he was defending his Police Commissioner.   I have to admit I yelled at the him when he said that stuff about people not having a state ID.  Seriously, unless your like 5, there's no excuse for not having a state ID, is there? (Semi-serious question.)

Then I had to leave to take my mom to visit her husband in the hospital, but on the way I listened in when I had coverage and I heard a lady answering questions.  Anybody know who she was?  She provided information about what the other states are doing. 

Oh, , and Ben Wolf.   I remember him from my days advocating for foster parents and foster kids.  Nice to have him and his cohorts(ACLU)  involved!  I'd like to say that his law suits made huge differences in DCFS, and they DID make some difference, but sometimes they (DCFS) just got better at saying the right things and not actually following through.  They farmed more of their cases out to private agencies, and then they thought nothing was their fault. 

Anyway, it seems like they're getting on the right track.

Offline chantygirl

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I liked Marc Levin as well.  I liked how fast he talked.  It made me pay closer attention to what he was saying.  When Senator Raul started talking I had a hard time paying attention, but I thought it was just my ADD kicking in.  What really bothered me though, just because it's personal to me, is that they still don't seem to be interested in involving EVERYONE in any type of legislation.  They want to focus on reducing overcrowding by reducing the penalties for drug crimes and the short-timer crimes (which is fine, I'm not complaining), but, the state is going to be out a fortune when all the long-timers (violent crimes) start aging.  If they don't start lowering sentences or including X crimes in on the reduction plans, the prison system is just going to turn into a nursing home. 

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I liked Marc Levin as well.  I liked how fast he talked.  It made me pay closer attention to what he was saying.  When Senator Raul started talking I had a hard time paying attention, but I thought it was just my ADD kicking in.  What really bothered me though, just because it's personal to me, is that they still don't seem to be interested in involving EVERYONE in any type of legislation.  They want to focus on reducing overcrowding by reducing the penalties for drug crimes and the short-timer crimes (which is fine, I'm not complaining), but, the state is going to be out a fortune when all the long-timers (violent crimes) start aging.  If they don't start lowering sentences or including X crimes in on the reduction plans, the prison system is just going to turn into a nursing home. 

I hate it too that they are so focused on drug crimes.  Especially don't like that they're throwing in ALL drugs. . . . I'm wondering if the rest are just bargaining tools to get the marijuana agreed upon?  Surely they don't want all of it?  Herion?  Seriously?
I don't think I want any.  Allowing any drugs is setting a lot of people up for failure in my opinion. 

That doesn't mean that I don't want any prison reform - far from that. 

Offline Forevermah

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Statement from Legislators and Criminal Justice Reform Advocates on Disgraceful Rauner Campaign Attack Ad

CHICAGO – A coalition of legislators and leading criminal justice reform advocates issued the below statement regarding Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner's new desperate campaign television ad, which misleadingly attacks a program that was shut down by the Governor more than four years ago:

"Bruce Rauner's latest television attack is disgraceful. The truth is the 2009 early release program was shut down by Governor Quinn more than four years ago.

"We worked with Governor Quinn, along with judges, experts and many legislators in both parties to pass one of the strongest criminal justice reforms in the nation and protect public safety.

"The Governor's leadership led to landmark sentencing reforms and a new program, Illinois' Supplemental Sentence Credit program, which is a national model in guarding public safety and providing incentives for non-violent inmates to engage in positive behavior and rehabilitation.

"Fundamentally dishonest attacks such as this Rauner attack ad cheapen the public dialogue on prison reform and distract from real steps needed to make our communities safer.

"The fact that Bruce Rauner is digging up an old, failed attack signifies his increasingly desperate campaign and insults the people of Illinois who deserve a debate on the real issues."

The statement was issued by the following legislators and advocates:
 

SB 2621 Sponsor: State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago)

SB 2621 Sponsor: State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago)


State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago)

State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park)

State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago)

State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights)

State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago)

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria)

State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge)

State Senator Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago)

State Senator Antonio Muñoz (D-Chicago)

State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago)

State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago)
 

State Representative Edward J. Acevedo (D-Chicago)

State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago)

State Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora)

State Representative Will Davis (D-Homewood)

State Representative Marcus Evans (D-Chicago)

State Representative Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago)

State Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago)

State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston)

State Representative Esther Golar (D-Chicago)

State Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago)

State Representative Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero)

State Representative Camille Lilly (D-Chicago)

State Representative Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago)

State Representative Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook)

State Representative Al Riley (D-Hazel Crest)

State Representative Art Turner (D-Chicago)

State Representative Emanuel Chris Welch (D-Hillside)

State Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago)

State Representative Michael J. Zalewski (D-Riverside)
 

Todd Belcore

Julie Biehl

Locke E. Bowman

Walter Boyd

Paula Carballido

Cynthia Cornelius

Bob Dougherty

Aisha Edwards

John Fallon

Alison R. Flaum

Aviva Futorian

Rory Guerra

Beth Johnson

Mariame Kaba

Kathie Kane-Willis

Stephanie Kollmann

Shoba L. Mahadev

Alexis Mansfield

Scott F. Main

Alan Mills

Ted Pearson

Pamela F. Rodriguez

Rachel Rosenthal

Bill Ryan

Rev. Al Sharp

Gail T. Smith

Amber Smock 

Anita Weinberg

Malcolm C. Young
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Offline Forevermah

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Rep. Mike Zalewski and Sen. Kwame Raoul: Working toward real criminal justice reform in Illinois



Posted Jan. 4, 2015  10:05 pm



    Our criminal justice system in Illinois is broken. We incarcerate far more people than our prisons and jails can handle, and too often where being behind bars is not an effective punishment.

    Yet for some of the most violent criminals, our punishments are not severe enough, and they are freed to commit crimes that ruin too many lives.

    For the past six months, we have worked with a bipartisan group of our colleagues to find answers for this enormous problem. While the path ahead will not be easy, we are prepared to present real solutions to produce long-term reform.

    The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee, co-chaired by Sen. Mike Noland and Rep. Mike Zalewski, met all summer and fall to consider the central question of how to rebalance Illinois’ criminal justice system. We heard hours of testimony from everyone with a stake in this system: mayors and county presidents, police and state’s attorneys, correctional officer representatives and advocates who have considered these challenges for decades.

    We also made site visits to facilities in Cook County and downstate to see the problems firsthand.

    The report we submitted outlines our work in great detail. Among the issues we discussed:

    n how the state’s prison population has grown eightfold in the past 40 years.

    n how state correctional officials are working to evaluate each inmate to maximize security and reduce return incarcerations.

    n how county jails and juvenile facilities are dealing with their own surges in population;

    n how to divert low-level drug offenders from prison; and

    n how alternative sentencing programs work in other states and could be implemented in Illinois.

    Now the real work begins as we prepare to consider legislation to address these critical points during the 2015 session of the General Assembly.

    We will look to expand the use of assessment tools to evaluate the risk of offenders before they are sentenced and expand electronic monitoring and in-field drug testing to lessen the populations in county jails. We will consider reducing penalties for low-level drug offenses and thefts and also look at how sentences requiring offenders to serve minimum periods behind bars affect the population and offenders’ chances of committing additional crimes.

    We will review how we handle juvenile offenders, when they are transferred to adult courts and prisons, and how intervention programs can be developed and provided more effectively.

    We will look to expand programs aimed more at prevention and rehabilitation for offenders than incarceration, such as mental health, drug and other specialized courts; probation and second-chance programs; community corrections and redeploy programs.

    Most importantly, we will seriously debate who we are putting behind bars and why. Our goals are to ensure our system provides hope and redirection for low-level offenders who do not need to be imprisoned or who should not return once they are released, and to ensure the violent, dangerous criminals are locked away where they cannot continue to wreak havoc on our streets.

    - These problems developed over decades and will take time to turn around. But we cannot afford to let them grow any longer. We must work for real reform this year and find a different way to keep our citizens safe and change lives.

    Rep. Mike Zalewski is a Democrat from Riverside. Sen. Kwame Raoul is a Democrat from Chicago.




Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/article/20150104/Opinion/150109866#ixzz3O37r8jSK
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Offline jody0122

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I would like to give my input because my husband to be has been incarcerated on driving with no license and fleeing to elude since March of 2012 and will not be elgible for parole until Sept 2016 .It was non dui sober as could be he was trying to get to hospital.
We have small child together and it is our son who suffers This seems to be stiff sentence for nonviolent crime an allot of prison overcrowding is caused by driving without license offenses If I could write letter or give input please let me know how to do so


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