We celebrate important victories as we continue to demand a moral budget that protects Illinois’ families and communities by choosing new revenue.
The 2015 Illinois General Assembly spring session concluded on May 31, 2015. Thanks to the strategic and effective work of our FORCE members, community leaders, CRS staff, constituents, and coalition partners, we played key roles in achieving several important victories:
- Reducing life-time barriers to employment in schools for people with records
- Increasing police accountability and ending brutality
- Decreasing the population of Cook County Jail
FORCE: Increasing Job Opportunities in Schools for People with Records
Reducing life-time barriers in the Illinois school code was a major legislative victory in the 2015 session. HB 494 passed the General Assembly with strong bi-partisan support and now awaits the Governor’s signature. HB 494 returns hiring discretion to local schools, ensuring that individuals with drug convictions can apply and be considered for work or volunteer positions after a seven-year wait following completion of sentence. The legislation also removes low-level cannabis and misdemeanor offenses related to human trafficking and homelessness from the list of disqualifying offenses.
Police: Increasing Accountability and Ending Brutality
The General Assembly took the first step in implementing major police reforms by passing the police reform omnibus bill. Through this legislation, Illinois becomes the first state to create police body-worn camera guidelines. SB 1304 also addresses stop and frisk practices by requiring officers to provide a person who has been frisked or searched with a receipt, including the reason for the stop, the officer's name, agency, and badge number. It also requires law enforcement to collect data on all stops resulting in a detention. While this bill represents a victory, there is still much work to do to implement reforms that are important to our community.
Reclaim Campaign: Decreasing the Population of Cook County Jail
The General Assembly took several positive actions towards reforming the Cook County Criminal Justice System this spring session. Both chambers passed legislation that could continue to decrease the population of the Cook County Jail by reducing the time between an arrest and preliminary hearing (HB 356), expanding the Drug Court Program (HB 1), and decriminalizing low-level cannabis possession (HB 218).
Revenue: Adequate State Budget and Just Education Funding
The General Assembly ended the spring legislative session without resolving Illinois’ FY16 budget crisis. Vital community programs and services face devastating cuts, starting July 1, if additional revenue is not approved during the extended summer legislative session. We must continue to pressure the Governor and General Assembly to act on a revenue solution that protects Illinois’ most vulnerable families and communities.