The governor, JB Pritzker, and lieutenant governor, Juliana Stratton, laid out plans for criminal-justice reforms on Thursday. They said, “They would work to end cash bail for low-level crimes, push drug offenders towards treatment, and reduce mandatory sentencing.” Gov. Pritzker admired the efforts of Stratton in this regard.
Pritzker shared the plans at Kennedy-King College in Englewood, a neighborhood of Chicago. Pritzker and Stratton called it Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative. Pritzker said that he pardoned 11000 drug offenders on New Year’s Eve. It was a part of the equity provisions in the legalization of cannabis. The use of cannabis has been legalized in Illinois from Jan. 1. The main focus of the JEO Initiative will be on drug crimes.
Pritzker said that they were taking a holistic approach to reform. He added that he wanted to build a fair criminal-justice system. Stratton said that she met a woman who said that she was sent to prison and she returned to prison again. According to the woman, her home was also a prison for herself. Stratton said, “It was about working to heal ailing communities.”
Stratton said that there were disproportionalities in the criminal justice system. The current system has a racial bias. The African-American and Hispanic communities suffered bear the brunt of arrests for illegal possession of marijuana. Stratton called the war on drugs a stark example of the inequalities. Stratton added, “We simply cannot have justice equity and opportunity.”
The JCO Initiative will focus on preferring rehabilitation over incarceration. The residents must get equal access to educational opportunities. Pritzker said, “We will reform mandatory sentences.” Illinois is currently spending $1.4 billion on keeping 40000 Illinoisans in jails. He said that the number of prisoners could be reduced without jeopardizing public safety. In the end, he said, “I expect Illinois to become a beacon of justice for the nation.”