Shortly after Gov. Bruce Rauner assumed office, he announced a major goal for Illinois’ oversized criminal-justice system: Reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent by 2025.
On Feb. 24, leading experts from the Illinois Policy Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, along with representatives from the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, will host a panel to discuss new research and solutions to help realize this goal.
In 2016, Illinois Policy will focus on re-entry reforms, which will enable more ex-offenders who have served their time to find meaningful work to support themselves and their families – instead of continuing to cycle in and out of the system.
Each year, more than 30,000 people are released from Illinois prisons and face the challenge of re-entering society. But nearly 45 percent of those leaving prison will return within three years. The biggest obstacle to getting their lives back on track – and staying out of prison – is finding good jobs. Research from the Safer Foundation shows that Illinois ex-offenders who are employed a year after release can have a recidivism rate as low as 16 percent. Instead of a clear path to becoming independent, however, many ex-offenders find themselves practically unemployable because of state policies that make obtaining work exceedingly difficult.
Success is possible, but only with employment. Adopting meaningful reforms such as criminal-record-sealing expansion and removing unnecessary occupational-licensing restrictions will save Illinois money in recidivism-related costs while enhancing public safety. Please join the Illinois Policy Institute and the ACLU of Illinois at this important event.
Rodger Heaton
– Chairman of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, Director of Public Safety, and Homeland Security Advisor to the governor.
Bryant Jackson-Green – Criminal Justice Policy Analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute.
Ben Ruddell – Criminal Justice Policy Attorney with the ACLU of Illinois
Moderated by Khadine Bennett – Staff Attorney and Legislative Counsel with the ACLU of Illinois
Lisa Creason — mom, activist and ex-offender
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 24
Time: 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. *A light breakfast will be served
Location: Jenner & Block LLP, 353 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654