Gov. Pritzker Launches New Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative

Bernie Tafoya
February 11, 2019 - 1:39 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Governor JB Pritzker has signed an executive order setting up a committee that will try to come up with ways to reform the state’s criminal justice system. 

Governor Pritzker’s executive order is called the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative.

"This initiative will conduct research, pilot programs and advocate for legislation as we work to build a justice system that reflects the values of the people of Illinois," he said.

Pritzker said his Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative will bring together agencies, organizations and others who have a stake in reforming the criminal justice system so that the state uses a coordinated approach to tackle the problem.

"It’s time to modernize sentencing, especially for low-level drug offenses. It’s time to reduce recidivism and re-entry through a holistic approach that addresses opportunity both inside and outside of our prisons," Pritzker said. 

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

The initiative will be headed by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton who said you cannot have justice without equity and opportunity. For example she said, "An equity lens means that we will study and explore how people that have been disproportionately entangled in the justice system due to low level drug offenses can now be the business owners, workers and active participants within the new economy that the adult use of cannabis will create."

The committee that will be headed by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton will file its first report in 90 days on what’s doable in the first year. 

Victor Dickson, the president and CEO of the Safer Foundation, said 4.2 million people in Illinois have arrest or conviction records out of roughly 9 million adults in the state. He welcomes the initiative as a way to reduce the state's recidivism rate. It's estimated that 48 percent of people released from prison will wind up back in the criminal justice system within three years.