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Meet Restore Justice Illinois

Restore Justice Illinois (RJI) is a civic organization founded to mitigate the human and fiscal impact of the extreme sentencing laws of the 1980s and 1990s, particularly where they have impacted children and young adults.


We focus on electing legislators who support criminal legal system reform, especially for people sentenced as children to adult prison terms.

Our first priority is ensuring people sentenced to life without parole in their youth can get another look, and we focus our electoral efforts on legislators who agree.


We believe sentencing policy, prison conditions and practices, and release avenues should reflect the value that all human beings have dignity.

We work toward a day when the criminal legal system in Illinois treats every case as an opportunity to heal individuals and communities. We believe this work begins with electing like-minded public officials.

Our Values


All individuals are capable of dramatic change within themselves and people united together are capable of creating dramatic change in systems and institutions. Individuals can and do change. Systems and institutions should recognize and respond to those changes.

Dignity & Humanity

All people deserve dignity and humanity, regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, or criminal history.

People first

People matter more than any agenda or abstract success, and we strive to make sure that what we do creates real change for real communities.

Doing no harm

Restore Justice maintains rigorous checks to ensure that our policies do not negatively impact the people we serve or prevent individuals from accessing services.

Practical strategies for aspirational goals

We dream big while also recognizing the dynamics of the system as it is.

Our Story

Restore Justice Illinois Forms – 2014

Restore Justice Illinois, a 501(c)(4) civic group, emerged to advocate for compassionate changes to the Illinois criminal code. But lobbying and advocacy only go so far. It soon became clear that in order to move the needle, we would have to move beyond the statehouse and into the community.

Restore Justice Foundation Forms – 2015

Restore Justice Foundation focuses on youth (children and young adults, under age 25) convicted of  crimes who are currently serving — or at the risk of serving — 40 years or more in the adult system. We develop a holistic approach to policy change for this group of people, with implications on the broader criminal legal system.

Illinois Creates First New Parole Opportunities in 40 years – 2019

HB 531 – now Public Act 100-1182 – creates new parole opportunities for those under 21 coming into the system today with extreme sentences ahead of them. People seeking review will have the right to an attorney and the Prisoner Review Board will be required to consider the hallmark features of youth and subsequent growth when making their determinations.

Illinois Abolishes Life Without Parole For Children – 2023

Public Act 102-1128 (House Bill 1064) builds on the 2019 Youthful Parole Law, which created the first new parole opportunities in Illinois since our state abolished parole in 1978. The most recent law extends parole review to young people sentenced to natural life in prison; this ensures no children 17 and younger can receive a life without parole sentence. Illinois’ law also makes our state a leader in sentencing reform by recognizing young people’s brain development and ensuring most people 18-20 are parole-eligible.

Our two organizations

Restore Justice Illinois is a 501(c)(4) organization that utilizes its resources to engage in direct legislative advocacy at the state level. Restore Justice Foundation trains and supports advocates, conducts research, nurtures partnerships, and develops policy solutions that will roll back the punitive policies of the past, replacing them with compassionate, smart, and safe policies for the future.