Our Accomplishments


  • FORCE 
    Led the passage of four bills in 2016 through the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law with the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI):

    • HB 4360 increases employment opportunities in schools and puts hiring decisions back in the hands of local school districts.
    • SB 42 creates licensing opportunities for qualified health care professionals like nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and dental hygienists with forcible felony convictions.
    • SB 3005 increases employment opportunities in park districts and allows local park districts to hire the best candidates for jobs.
    • HB 4515 improves the health care waiver process and increases job opportunities for people with criminal records.
  • Police Accountability 
    After a two-year battle, the Office of the Inspector General of Policing was created in the City of Chicago to audit complaints against police and provide police oversight. The creation of this office is a step toward accountability within the Chicago Police Department, and it provides transparency and reporting needed to transform the culture of the Chicago police.

  • Westside Community Benefits Coalition
    Helped lead the Westside Community Benefits Coalition as it called for a Community Benefits Agreement with developers in the Illinois Medical District.  The Cook County Board approved a legally binding redevelopment agreement with developers of the Cook County Stroger Hospital.  The developers are required to set aside 20% of all housing created in the development as affordable housing.  The developers are also obligated to hire local residents for 7.5% of the total hours worked for the 5,500 jobs that will be created by this development.


  • Passed HB 494 in the Illinois General Assembly in collaboration with other criminal justice advocates.  This bill removes life-time barriers to employment in schools for men and women with criminal records.
  • Conducted an 8-week Court Watching Program with over 60 volunteers in the summer of 2015 which found that Cook County Chief Judge Evans was keeping his commitment to reform bond court by increasing the number of low-risk detainees who are released on non-monetary bonds from 20% to 60%.
  • Helped to pass HB 356, the Cook County Drug Analysis Field Test Pilot Program, in the Illinois General Assembly. This initiative is piloting drug analysis field testing in Chicago so that defendants facing controlled substance charges have their preliminary hearings faster and spend less time in Cook County Jail.
  • The Reclaim Campaign advocated for and secured commitments from President Preckwinkle and Sheriff Dart to close and tear down 3 units of the Cook County Jail, which will save the county millions of dollars over the next decade that can be invested in violence prevention and community-based diversion; and advocated for and won the expansion of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s deferred prosecution program.


  • Helped block HB 5672 from passage, which proposed new and increased mandatory minimum sentences that would increase the population in Illinois’ already overcrowded jails and prisons.

  • Won several commitments from Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans aimed at reducing the population of Cook County Jail and increasing alternatives to incarceration, including a new Restorative Justice Diversion pilot program that will divert 100 non-violent or low-level arrestees to approved Restorative Justice Peace Hubs.
  • As part of the End Demand Illinois coalition, helped to pass SB 3558 to fund meaningful community-based services for survivors of human trafficking and encourage a more effective law enforcement response to end demand for sexual exploitation.

  • Worked with the Raise Illinois Coalition to pass HB 3814 adding a non-binding advisory question to the November 2014 ballot asking if the minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour for adults in Illinois by January 1, 2015.

  • Successfully advocated with the Sweet Home Chicago Coalition for the Cook County Land Bank to prioritize affordable housing, local hiring, and community input in its decision making regarding land transactions.


  • As a member of the Safety First Coalition, CRS helped pass SB 957, to provide a path for undocumented people in Illinois to receive drivers licenses and auto insurance.
  • Worked with the End Demand Illinois coalition to pass SB 1872 amending the sentencing provision for prostitution in the criminal code to a Class A misdemeanor and deleting the felony sentence enhancement
  • Helped to pass HB 1, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, which created a four-year pilot program during which individuals with serious diseases could buy limited amounts of medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries.
  • The Chicago Reporter won seven Peter Lisagor Awards honoring exemplary reporting, graphics, photography and TV programming in 2012


  • Worked with the End Demand Illinois coalition to pass SB 5278 which amended the Criminal Code to ensure that Illinois’ anti-trafficking laws are applicable to the methods used by sex traffickers today, allowing for State’s Attorneys to prosecute offenders more effectively.
  • Helped to pass charity care legislation, as part of the Fair Care Coalition, that requires all Illinois hospitals to use a universal application and standards of presumptive eligibility for un-insured, under-insured, low-income persons who need free or reduced hospital services.
  • Convened the third annual criminal justice symposium - Serving Our Communities:  Alternatives To Incarceration - on October 12, 2012 with presentations by experts from Seattle, Washington's LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) Program, the Wisconsin Community Justice Reinvestment in Milwaukee, and Illinois Adult Re-Deploy in Macon County.


  • Gave leadership to amending the criminal record sealing law of 2008, to give the courts the discretion to seal records of felony cases that ended in either dismissal or acquittal of the charges or reversal or vacation of a conviction, thereby allowing eligible individuals to seek gainful employment without the stigma of a criminal record.
  • Led the effort to create Illinois’ first state-wide environmental justice legislation, forming an Environmental Justice Commission that will address whether current state laws and policies ensure that no community-- regardless of race, age, or socioeconomic status--bears a disproportionate portion of the state’s environmental pollution.
  • As a part of the Responsible Budget Coalition, created new funding to protect crucial education, healthcare, and human services for Illinois residents.
  • Held the second annual criminal justice symposium - Drug Policy Reform: A Christian Imperative? - on April 11, 2011 with presentations by theologians, policy experts, service providers, and legislators exploring why Christians should care about drug policy.
  • Angela Caputo, Kimbriell Kelly and Alissa Groeninger won the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor award in the in-depth reporting in a magazine with circulation under 20,000 for “17”—an investigation of teens prosecuted as adults, mostly for nonviolent offenses.
  • Joe Gallo, Jon Lowenstein and Mark Abramson won the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for photography in a magazine with circulation under 20,000 for their photography on the “17” investigation.
  • Christine Wachter won the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for graphics in a magazine with circulation under 20,000 for her graphics documenting the path teens take from juvenile to adult court, the millions of dollars spent on job training yielding meager results and the overrepresentation of black youth in the child welfare system. 


  • In partnership with Jane Addams Senior Caucus, passed landmark nursing home legislation which doubled the amount of staff care low-income African-American seniors received at many South side nursing homes.
  • Collaborated with the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University to present New Directions for Drug Policy in Illinois, the first drug policy reform symposium to be held in the Chicago area with presentations by drug policy experts in the medical, legal, and legislative fields.





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