Criminal Justice Reform

For decades, politicians have found it politically profitable to appear "tough on crime" by raising criminal penalties and barriers to reentry for incarcerated citizens increasingly higher. I spent over a decade working in the office of the Cook County State's Attorney. I saw firsthand  that in many cases, the hands of prosecutors and judges are tied by overly harsh mandatory minimums imposed in Springfield. 

One of my primary missions in my time as a legislator has been to implement smart, bipartisan criminal justice reform. We lock up too many people, keep them for too long, and make it too difficult for them to reintegrate back into society when their release finally comes. Rather than act as a deterrent to recidivism, these punitive measures ensure that youthful mistakes become a lifetime of difficulty getting jobs and finding housing. Often, people in that desperate situation feel they have no choice but to turn back to crime.

In recent years, I have helped lead the charge towards a more progressive criminal justice system. We have passed legislation increasing job opportunities for ex-offenders, expanding eligibility for record sealing, reducing overly harsh sentences, improving conditions and opportunities in prison facilities, and more.

This session, I passed a bill ensuring that pregnant women being detained pre-trial aren't forced to give birth in jail. I also passed a bill to prevent parolees from being swept back off to prison for "gang activity" because of totally innocuous contact with a friend or family member. I am also fighting, among other things, to expand probation eligibility, ensure that currently incarcerated persons can appeal their sentences when the legislature reduces penalties, and to mandate crisis training for new police officers.