SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced proposals to end cash bail, change theft and drug-crime sentencing to give criminals opportunities to escape addiction and creating more rehabilitation options to reduce long sentences.
The ideas are among seven "guiding principles" the Democrat unveiled for negotiations with the General Assembly over criminal justice reform, an initiative announced in January and spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton and pushed forward for decades by the Legislative Black Caucus.
"We spend billions of dollars a year keeping too many people in an overcrowded prison system that has proven itself too expensive, too punitive and wholly ineffective at keeping Illinois families safe," Pritzker said in a statement.
Among the ideas:
— Eliminating the use of cash bail that often disrupts low-income families and limit detention to public-safety risks.
— Limit incarceration for non-violent drug-related offenses and offer offenders needed public health services and reduce recidivism by increasing access to housing and health care.
— Replace lengthy prison sentences by increase sentence credit and supervise release and limit penalty enhancements that trap low-income families and minorities in "generational cycles of incarceration."
— Increase accountability for police agencies by such action as creating statewide standards and reducing red tape for civilians to lodge complaints; strengthen statewide standards for police use of force and ease interactions with police by decriminalizing some non-violent offense, improving crowd control and more.
Many of the policies that Democrats believe need to be changed are racist because Black and brown people are the ones most affected.
"We will only see true, meaningful change within our criminal justice system when we as state leaders work together to eliminate the racism that has plagued it for centuries," said Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat, who thanked Pritzker for supporting the Black Caucus in its "efforts to bring justice and fairness to Black communities throughout the state."
The General Assembly is scheduled to return for its six-day fall session on Nov. 17.
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