Race and wealth continue to skew our criminal justice resulting in adverse residual effects on all our families and communities. Without comprehensive criminal justice reform, our city continues to steadily lose young men and women. Young men and women who have the potential to be community leaders, workers, taxpayers, and people actively involved in their children’s lives.
Sound criminal justice reform will help ensure the safety and vitality of all of our communities, instead of allowing people to languish in prisons for non-violent offenses. As Commissioner, I believe public policy around criminal justice reform should not be driven by fear, but compelled by pragmatism.
I will advocate for the following reforms, including:
- Improving police and community relations;
- Alleviating the overcrowding of the Cook County Jail system;
- Improving our Juvenile Justice system;
- Supporting Restorative Justice programs;
- Reducing the number of minority youth coming in contact with the Juvenile Justice system.
I believe people who return home from prison need an opportunity to work and become productive community members. I continue to support and promote initiatives for successful re-integration, particularly initiatives:
- Directly addressing the challenges of inadequate housing, the most pressing challenge for people with criminal records returning to society; and
- Providing transitional employment, time-limited, wage-paying jobs, which combine real work, skill development, and support services to help participants overcome substantial barriers to employment.
The issues with Cook County Jail, where hundreds if not thousands of detainees have some level of mental illness, is well documented. As Commissioner, I believe addressing mental illness can reduce the traffic in the criminal justice system, saving money to taxpayers while treating people with mental illness more appropriately and humanely.
As Commissioner, I continue to:
- Promote initiatives ensuring access to medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment for people with criminal records, incorporating experienced and successful community-based organizations; and
- Seek to replicate successful programs like the Community Triage Center in the Roseland neighborhood, a viable alternative to jail for the seriously mental illness that take those who may be in trouble with the law and divert them into treatment.