04052017CM0573State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) introduced legislation last week that seeks to find treatment for trauma victims accused of gun offenses rather than imposing harsh sentences on them.

“The trauma caused by violence in many communities often goes untreated and can have a lasting impact on victims, sometimes leading them to commit crimes themselves,” Raoul said. “Diversion programs to treat the underlying trauma will have a much more positive impact on these individuals and their communities than incarceration will.”

The measure creates the Unlawful Possession of Firearms Diversion Program, which recognizes the role of trauma in the crime and provides treatment options. It requires courts to advise people charged with unlawful possession of a firearm about the program if the judge believes the they suffer from trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder. If the person is eligible and elects to participate in the program, he or she will be placed on probation for the duration of the program.

Before being placed in the Diversion Program, the person charged with the crime must undergo an examination by a Department of Human Services licensed program to determine if he or she suffers from trauma or PTSD.

The Diversion Program can continue for a period of time equal to the maximum sentence for the crime or for five years, whichever is less. If someone has no prior criminal record, they are eligible to have their sentence vacated once they complete the program.

SB 592 will be heard by the full Senate later this month.

04062017CM0593 RState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) secured passage today of legislation aimed at taking a comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform and reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.

“The step we took today 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 and those who just picked up a gun for the first time.”  

Raoul has also introduced legislation, SB 592, that recognizes the impact of trauma in communities and creates diversion options for first time gun offenders.

The measure that passed the Senate today is targeted towards 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. 

It 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 after a risk assessment tool determines the person is considered low-risk and need.

SB 1722 passed 35-9-4 in the Senate and is headed to the House for consideration.

repeat gun offenders billThe Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that a measure targeting repeat gun offenders cosponsored by Senator Anthony Munoz (D-Chicago 1st) and Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) could save the department $62 million over 10 years.

“Many opponents of this legislation speculated that it would drive up costs and increase the prison population due to the recommendation of tougher penalties for repeat gun offenders,” Raoul said. “This estimate from the Department of Corrections shows that, because the recommended increase in sentencing ranges is coupled with other criminal justice reforms, it could actually decrease the population and save money.”

In addition to saving millions of dollars, the Department of Corrections said the reforms could result in a decrease of 1,471 incarcerated offenders over 10 years.

The legislation increases sentencing guidelines for repeat gun offenders while enacting a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at lowering the prison population and addressing the disproportionate sentencing of nonviolent offenders.

 

 

Reforms in the legislation include:

  • Reduces certain drug possession offenses from Class 1 to Class 2 and 3 felonies based on amount.
  • 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
  • Reduces the period of mandatory supervised release for certain offenses and allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release if that person is determined to be low-risk.

SB 1722 advanced out of the Senate Criminal Law committee with a 6-5-0 vote last week and will move to the Senate for consideration.

0301213br0033rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on Governor Rauner’s interference with the grand bargain budget deal:

After weeks of bipartisan effort to end this historic budget crisis that has put our state $11 billion in debt, the Senate has once again been undermined by Governor Rauner. As soon as the grand bargain began to gain momentum with successful votes on some measures in the package yesterday, the governor’s office took swift action to deter Republican members from voting favorably on some pieces of legislation.

As always, I commend Leader Radogno for her willingness to negotiate in good faith, and I am sorry that the governor has sabotaged her work. I also applaud my Democratic colleagues for taking on difficult votes in an effort to move the state forward.

It is unconscionable and immoral for the governor to interfere with bipartisan cooperation when the budget crisis has real consequences for citizens in need of human services, businesses dealing with the state, and medical providers having to turn away patients. Additionally, this action allows for the continuance of an apartheid in our education system.

The governor’s actions are not those of a true leader. The people of Illinois elected a governor, not a king.

Raoul headshot 2015 webState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rauner’s budget address:

Today, Governor Rauner said he proposed a budget, but I looked all around the Capitol, and I couldn’t find it. The governor instead continued to undermine the Senate’s bipartisan efforts and once again failed to fulfill his constitutional obligation to present a balanced budget.

During his address, Governor Rauner presented a laundry list of goals with no details on how to pay for them. He suggested that he knows what job creators want. I can tell you that what they want most is the stability that comes from paying our bills on time. Before Governor Rauner took office, we had made great progress in paying down our backlog. Now, we have accrued more than $11 billion in unpaid bills. The only difference between then and now is who is in the governor’s mansion.

I continue to be proud of my colleagues in the Senate, particularly President Cullerton and Leader Radogno, for working tirelessly to propose a budget that will finally offer relief to the people who have been suffering for nearly two years as essential services and providers are stretched to the limit. Although the governor did not do his job today, we will continue to push for a solution that provides for the people of Illinois.