Governor Rauner issued an Executive Order on February 11, 2015, creating a 28 member Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. The goal of the Commission is to study the criminal justice system and make recommendation for amending state laws, policies, and procedures to help reduce the State’s prison population by 25% by the year 2025, while maintaining public safety. As of February 28, 2015 the prison population as reported by the IDOC was 47,952 and does not include inmates in county and local jails or juveniles. A 25% reduction in prison population would be equal to about 16,000 inmates being released and is predicated on a reduction in recidivism at the same time.
The goal of the Commission can only be achieved by making smarter decisions about who should be sentenced to prison and for what time, who can and who should be punished by other methods, and what steps can be taken to help offenders return to successful citizenship after prison. The Commission’s initial concerns include the capacity of programs for criminal offenders outside of prison. Access to programs and services that address the underlying causes of criminality is the foundation for changing behavior and reducing recidivism. If capacity is not addressed before people are shifted out of prison and into a community supervision system, there is a predictable risk that crime will increase.
OBK will continue to move forward to establish a reenty home for returning citizens to attain productive citizenship by participating in reenty services, including supportive housing, life and career skills, and counseling services.