SB1722 signing rA comprehensive criminal justice reform measure sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) was signed into law today by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The measure is aimed at reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.

“This law is a continuation of my record of criminal justice reform efforts focusing on individualized treatment of offenders,” Raoul said. “It is vital that we distinguish between repeat offenders who are more likely to be shooters and first time offenders who may be better candidates for diversion.”  

The measure is targeted toward repeat gun offenders, recommending that judges sentence them on the higher end of the existing sentencing range. It does allow judges to deviate from the higher sentencing recommendation if they find circumstances indicate departure is appropriate.  

Raoul collaborated with House sponsor Rep. Jim Durkin (D-Western Springs) to include a provision in the bill creating a diversion program in lieu of sentencing for first-time offenders under the age of 21.

The legislation also puts in place a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population and providing low-risk offenders with better access to rehabilitation programming and opportunities after release. These reforms include:

 

    • Increases access to educational, vocational and re-entry programming for individuals incarcerated for truth-in-sentencing offenses, allowing eligible individuals to reduce their sentence up to 15 percent.

 

    • Reduces the protected area for drug crimes from 1,000 to 500 feet, removes public housing as a protected area and requires prosecutors to prove a connection between the crime and the protected area before a felony can be enhanced.

 

    • Expands the eligibility for the Offender Initiative Program, Second Chance Probation and all other drug probation programs.

 

      Allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release if a risk assessment tool determines that the person is considered low-risk and need.

 

Among supporters of the measure was Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who testified twice in its support during the legislative session.

“Those numbers represent multiple generations of young black men who never have a chance to make something of their lives because of illegal guns and criminals willing to pull the trigger,” Johnson said during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee in May. “Quite frankly, as an African American leader, I’m disgusted, and as a cop, I’m angry.”

SB 1722 takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.