August 19, 2021 – Chicago, IL.
We congratulate Senator Elgie Sims, Senator Robert Peters, and Representative Justin Slaughter for being awarded the NACDL Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award today. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyer (NACDL) Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award recognizes an individual or group whose exceptional efforts have led to positive changes to reform a state criminal legal system.
In January 2021, Senator Elgie Sims, Senator Robert Peters, and Representative Justin Slaughter led the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Illinois Legislature in advancing monumental policing and criminal legal system reforms. Because of their visionary leadership, hard work, and commitment to equity and fairness, the Safe-T Act, or Public Act 101-0652, is now law. The Act, also called the Criminal Justice Reform Omnibus, begins the process of untangling decades of racist, ineffective criminal legal system policies.
“Restore Justice was proud to nominate Senator Sims, Senator Peters, and Representative Slaughter for this well-deserved Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award. They demonstrated extraordinary leadership to pass the Safe-T Act and made Illinois a national leader in public safety reforms,” Restore Justice Policy Director Lindsey Hammond said.
In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the deplorable events our country witnessed in the past year, it became clear to the awardees that Illinois could not delay safety and justice for all residents any longer. During the 1970s and 1990s, Illinois joined many states in adopting extreme “tough-on-crime” laws. Research and analysis show these policies have little to no effect on reducing crime; they tear apart families and communities without making anyone safer. As a result of these policies, Black communities deal with police more often, are arrested at higher rates, receive more serious charges, are sentenced to more extreme punishments, and, ultimately, receive disproportionately harsh prison discipline.
The Safe-T Act contains long-awaited comprehensive public safety reforms that address many of these devastating, racially unjust practices and make communities left behind by the criminal legal system safer. There are four key areas of reform in this legislation that will increase equity for Illinois residents: ending cash bail and reforming the pretrial system, policing reform, sentencing and prison reform, and victim service reform.
The sponsors incorporated years of advocacy, and held hundreds of hours of committee hearings and stakeholder meetings. Senators Sims and Peters, and Representative Slaughter continued these conversations during the pandemic, holding virtual discussions to continue moving the proposal forward. This collaborative approach resulted in Illinois becoming the first state to end wealth-based pretrial incarceration and providing more services for people affected by crime.
Available for Comment:
Lindsey Hammond, Policy Director, Restore Justice, email@example.com | 872-228-5360
Sharone R. Mitchell, Jr., Cook County Public Defender, firstname.lastname@example.org | 312-603-0718
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.