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Author Topic: Joint Legislative Criminal Justice Reform Committee Meeting Sept23 - IMPORTANT  (Read 27258 times)

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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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Offline me

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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.

Offline Forevermah

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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?

Offline jaf

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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.

Offline Forevermah

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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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