Gov. Rauner Signs Into Law Criminal Justice Reform Bills

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Governor Bruce Rauner (R-IL) has signed five bills aimed at reforming Illinois’ criminal justice system which are designed to lessen the long-term impact of criminal convictions for what are considered to be low-level crimes.

The five bills he signed Monday according to the Governor’s office are:

SB 3164 requires review of a pre-sentencing report, as well as an explanation of why incarceration is appropriate for offenders with no prior probation sentences or prison convictions prior to sentencing.

The Governor’s office says that last year, nearly 60% of new prison admissions for Class 3 or 4 felonies had no prior convictions for violent crimes. Sending low-level offenders inefficiently uses prison resources and potentially makes low-level offenders more susceptible to reoffending.  Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) was a sponsor of this bill.

HB 6291 amends the Juvenile Court Act to change the minimum probation period for a youth declared delinquent.

The bill is meant to help youth struggling with addictions to have the opportunity to go through the treatment process before being sent to prison.

HB 5017 allows a juvenile to immediately petition the court for expungement when he or she is charged with an offense that is dismissed without a finding of delinquency.

The Governor’s office says this bill will help youth who were arrested but not charged get a fresh start and clear their names.

HB 6200 reduce per minute rates of phone calls for inmates, which some complained were too high.

SB 3005 amends the Park District Code to provide that a park district shall not knowingly employ a person who has been convicted of specified drug offenses until seven years following the end of a sentence imposed including periods of supervision or probation.

The previous law stated that park districts could not employ any person convicted of the specified drug offenses.

“We need to approach our criminal justice system with more compassion,” said Governor Rauner in a news release. “I want those who did something wrong to face punishment, but we must make sure that the punishment fits the crime. We need to explore new avenues so that we’re balancing punishment with rehabilitation and not needlessly tearing families and lives apart.”

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