28 May Restore Justice Applauds Senator Fine, Representative Gabel, and the Illinois Department of Corrections for Supporting Families with Incarcerated Loved Ones
May 28, 2021 – Chicago, Il.
We applaud State Senator Laura Fine, State Representative Robyn Gabel, and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) for their partnership in advancing a measure to support families with incarcerated loved ones. Senate Bill 1976 unanimously passed through the Illinois House on Thursday, May 27 following passage through the Senate.
If signed into law, Senate Bill 1976 would create a statewide point of contact to receive complaints, suggestions, and requests from family members of currently incarcerated individuals. Currently, those with incarcerated loved ones must rely on staff at a particular facility to address visitation issues, including conflicts over visitation rules, concerns with staff behavior, or questions. These same staff members may be directly involved in the issue.
Senator Fine and Representative Gabel started championing this bill in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the legislative session to a halt. This year, IDOC Director Rob Jeffreys and his team worked in partnership with legislators and advocates to move the legislation forward and make visits more accessible.
“The Point of Contact means so much to those of us who have loved ones incarcerated. It is important to have legislators and the Illinois Department of Corrections acknowledge that families matter. This says they care about the difficulties faced when you have someone incarcerated; trying to stay connected to that person is difficult and heartbreaking,” said Julie Anderson, who has an incarcerated son and leads a family support group.
“It validates all of us: mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and the thousands of family and friends that take time off of work to drive countless hours and spend hundreds of dollars to let the people they love know they care and want to be a part of their life, however difficult. This bill says, ‘We matter.’”
Restore Justice works to improve prison conditions that erode human dignity. Many of our staff and board members are formerly incarcerated people or have loved ones in prison today. Our team visits people incarcerated in Illinois prisons, and we fund an annual bus trip for family members to visit loved ones at Menard Correctional Center, which is 350 miles from Chicago. Our staff, family network, and board members conduct more than 200 visits to people in Illinois prisons each year.
Restore Justice, which comprises Restore Justice Foundation and Restore Justice Illinois, works to address issues faced by those serving life or de-facto life sentences, their families, and their communities. Founded in 2015 by a dedicated group of advocates that included the late former Congressman, Federal Judge, and White House Counsel Abner Mikva, Restore Justice trains and supports advocates, conducts research, nurtures partnerships, and develops policy solutions that will roll back ineffective “tough on crime” policies of the past, replacing them with compassionate, smart, and safe policies for the future.