Lawmakers Approve Criminal Justice Reform in Lame Duck Session

Jan 10, 2017

Illinois lawmakers quickly approved a criminal justice reform package during the two-day lame duck legislative session.

Two years ago...Peoria Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth's 22-year-old stepson was murdered. Today she is thankful her proposal, which provides more support to victims of violent crimes, passed the House and Senate.

The measure gives judges more discretion when sentencing drug offenders...and lets inmates earn good time credit for taking training and other classes while they're behind bars. It's supported by Representative Chad Hays of Danville.

The bill also lets inmates earn good time credit for taking personal improvement classes and makes it easier for judges to sentence drug offenders to probation instead of prison if appropriate.

Meanwhile, a commission created by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner recommends reducing prison populations with a focus on treatment, curbing racial bias and emphasizing rehabilitation with punishment.

The Criminal Justice Reform Commission made 13 recommendations in its final report delivered to Rauner on Tuesday.

The commission suggests increasing post-prison services in communities with high numbers of ex-inmates. It says training for prison employees on racial and ethnic bias is important. And sentencing guidelines should be reworked to emphasize constructive community rehabilitation while holding offenders accountable.

Rauner announced a 2015 plan to reduce prison population by 25 percent over a decade. It's down 10 percent since then but prisons still hold 43,000 inmates in space designed for 32,000.

Rauner says he will review the report and will sign a justice-reform plan lawmakers approved Tuesday.

It's now up to Governor Bruce Rauner to sign it into law.