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Illinois Lawmakers Want To Focus On Violent Crime Victims

 Posted on January 10, 2017 in Law

Crime can be a cyclical practice, where individuals can’t escape the reality of repeatedly being preyed upon. In an effort to break this cycle and help victims get the rehabilitation services they need, Illinois lawmakers hope to get a new law passed by the Senate today.

The criminal justice reform package, which was approved by the House yesterday by a vote of 83-26, will go before the Senate today. The package asks for a variety of changes and reform services, including:

  • Recovery services to aid violent crime victims.
  • Good-time credit off of sentences for prisoners who complete rehabilitation courses while incarcerated. These programs would be specifically designed to address their individual shortcomings.
  • Giving judges the ability to impose probation-only sentences for some first-time offenses.

“By and large, what we’re doing now is warehousing people, not getting them rehabilitated,” said State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria. “(When they’re released) they’re just getting a bus ticket and returning to the same communities they left, worse off.”

Focus On Rehabilitation

The goal of the reform package is to ensure offenders serve their time but also get the rehabilitation services they need to be reintegrated back into society while reducing the likelihood that they’ll fall back into old habits.

“There should be consequences for behavior, but we should meet people where they’re at. … Nobody’s winning in this cycle where we are now,” said Gordon-Booth.

The bill has achieved widespread support, even receiving a recommendation from House GOP leader Jim Durkin, who co-sponsored the bill. Durkin said he wants to remain “tough on crime, but today I’m glad to be smart on crime, which this bill is.”

Rehabilitation isn’t just for offenders, though. According to Gordon-Booth, the reform package also offers a “cadre of resources” to victims of crime to help them after a traumatic incident. Funds from the program would help victims get counseling and family support, and it could also help provide relocation assistance.

“Hopefully this will be another method that we can reach the victims of crime and get them the necessary services,” said Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady.

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