Illinois will be changing the way it handles people who have committed crimes in the state.
On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 2872, the Neighborhood Safety Act, into law. This law is aimed at stoping the cycle of crime by expanding access to trauma recovery services for crime victims, incentivizing inmates to participate in rehabilitation programs including life skills, job training and substance abuse treatment, and expanding judicial discretion for some sentencing decisions. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).
“For too long the only response to crime in our communities has been locking people up. Today our prisons are overflowing but many people are returning back to their communities worse off than when they went in. Incarceration as the singular response to crime and victimization isn’t working to make us safer,” said Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth. “Meeting the needs of crime victims means fixing our broken criminal justice system. That is why we have to change our focus from incarceration to real safety: trauma recovery services for victims, crime prevention, and rehabilitation. We have a long road ahead of us, but I am hopeful when I see this historic coalition of Democrats and Republicans who have come together to pass the Neighborhood Safety Act.”
A first-of-its-kind survey of victims of crime in Illinois, commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice last year, found that seven in 10 victims prefer a balanced approach to public safety – shorter prison sentences and greater investments in prevention, rehabilitation and trauma recovery for victims.
Lenore Anderson, the president of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, said, “With this bill, Illinois is on the cutting edge of criminal justice reform in the country. Governor Rauner, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, and forward-thinking lawmakers from both sides of the aisle showed remarkable leadership on this bill, working together to pursue smart safety solutions for Illinois that break cycles of crime, reduce incarceration and support victims. The Alliance for Safety and Justice was honored to work alongside these leaders and look forward to our continued work together.”