- Published: 06 April 2017
State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured passage today of legislation aimed at taking a comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform and reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.
“The step we took today is a continuation of my record of criminal justice reform efforts focusing on individualized treatment of offenders,” Raoul said. “It is vital that we distinguish between repeat offenders and those who just picked up a gun for the first time.”
Raoul has also introduced legislation, SB 592, that recognizes the impact of trauma in communities and creates diversion options for first time gun offenders.
The measure that passed the Senate today is targeted towards repeat gun offenders, recommending that judges sentence them on the higher end of the existing sentencing range. It does allow judges to deviate from the higher sentencing recommendation if they find circumstances indicate departure is appropriate.
It also puts in place a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population and providing low-risk offenders with better access to rehabilitation programming and opportunities after release. These reforms include:
- Increases access to educational, vocational and re-entry programming for individuals incarcerated for truth-in-sentencing offenses, allowing eligible individuals to reduce their sentence up to 15 percent.
- Reduces the protected area for drug crimes from 1,000 to 500 feet, removes public housing as a protected area and requires prosecutors to prove a connection between the crime and the protected area before a felony can be enhanced.
- Expands the eligibility for the Offender Initiative Program, Second Chance Probation and all other drug probation programs.
- Allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release after a risk assessment tool determines the person is considered low-risk and need.
SB 1722 passed 35-9-4 in the Senate and is headed to the House for consideration.