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Advocates propose legislation to streamline resources, other aids to help people let out of prison reintroduce themselves into society
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Friday, September 30, 2022  |   Article  |   Associated Press

The next step to improve public safety should be improving help for people recently released from prison so they can return to society as productive members, advocates told members of the House Public Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force Thursday.

 

The task force met with members of the SAFER Foundation and Live Free Illinois — organizations that work to provide assistance to people convicted for crimes. Advocates from the organizations said making sure people who were formerly incarcerated have access to resources when they are let out of prison helps ensure they won’t return to prison. The advocates proposed several initiatives they hope lawmakers take on.  

 

Second Chance State Act 

 

The SAFER Foundation is calling on lawmakers to support a piece of legislation they call the Second Chance State Act, which has not been filed into a bill. The proposal calls for establishing a new state agency to oversee the coordination of resources for people who are released from prison.  

 

“We feel this will dramatically reduce the likelihood of returning to criminal activity and interaction with the criminal legal system,” said Paul Stewart of Iluminara Public Affairs. 

 

The proposal calls for using 13 hubs throughout the state that are led by community organizations and overseen by a state agency to coordinate resources for people leaving prison rather than leaving people to seek out resources on their own. The plan would focus on providing resources that are social determinants of health including education, health care, a person’s neighborhood environment, social factors and economic stability.  

 

“These social determinants of health also have a direct impact on influencing better societal outcomes following involvement with the criminal legal system,” Stewart said.  

 

“Healthy people equal healthy communities. And there’s been a lot of talk recently about our communities and the state of our communities. We believe that individuals who are returning to the community can return to be productive and contributing residents within their communities, but they need all of the assistance and support,” he said. 

 

The services already exist, said Kevin Brown, SAFER Communities’ senior director of external affairs and community partnerships. However, they aren’t all consolidated and he said the level of service would improve if the services were coordinated by one agency. 

 

Felons serving as administrators of estates

 

Under Illinois law, a person convicted of a felony cannot serve as the administrator of an estate, which advocates say can be a major barrier for a person in need of housing. 

 

Alex Brown, a leader at Live Free Illinois, said he was released from prison just over a year ago. But before he was sentenced to prison for a felony, his mom died in 2018. Brown was the administrator of the estate and said had she died after he was released from prison, his family could have been forced to deal with a housing crisis. 

 

Brown said lawmakers should support SB3098 sponsored by Sen. Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) and HB4490 sponsored by Rep. Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago). The bills would allow a person convicted of a felony to serve as the administrator of an estate.  

 

Automatic expungements 

 

Live Free Illinois is also planning to craft legislation that would allow people with felony convictions or arrest records who qualify for expungements to have their records automatically expunged. 

 

Calling it the “Clean Slate” initiative, Brown said the proposal wouldn’t change who qualifies for having their record expunged but would address the problem of people not knowing they are eligible for expungement and facing barriers because they are not able to have their record wiped clean. 

 

“If only 10 percent are informed about it and [agencies] are overwhelmed with the 10 percent they have to deal with now, imagine if they have to deal with the whole 2.2 million” people who qualify for expungement, Brown said. 

 

This would allow more people to have access to resources like housing or jobs that people with criminal records typically face barriers accessing, advocates said. 

 

“I’d say if you put barriers in front of reformed individuals, that is a threat to public safety because people are not able to have gain from employment, they’re not able to have housing, they’re not able to provide for their families. And that’s always a risk factor for criminal behavior,” Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) said. 

 

Lawmakers on the task force were intrigued by the proposal, but encouraged the advocates to refine the details of their proposal and how it would work. Rep. Lance Yednock (D-Ottawa) noted lawmakers approved $1 billion of funding for organizations this year and some of that funding should be used to advertise the possibility of record expungements to people who are eligible. 

 

The task force’s Republican leader Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) said Republicans are willing to have conversations about the ideas presented Thursday, but the details of the proposal should be ironed out so lawmakers can ensure people released from prison are returning to society “in a safe and responsible way.” 


Illinois Playbook: What shaped Welch’s view
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Friday, September 30, 2022  |   Article  |   Shia Kapos

TGIF, Illinois. Sending prayers to Florida, where POLITICO’s bureau there reports: ‘Total destruction’ as residents live through a night of terror.

Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch gave some insight Thursday night into how his view on the world was shaped by his childhood.

 

It was about overcoming trauma: “Right after my parents bought our first house, I had an aunt who was murdered on the streets of Chicago,” he told John Shaw, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, during a forum at Southern Illinois University. “She had three girls and they were small at the time. And my parents didn’t think [twice] about it. They brought my cousins in, who are now my sisters. And we went from a family of five to a family of eight.” Welch also has two brothers.

 

Welch's aunt was shot while sitting in her car in front of the family’s church. Her killer or killers “have never been caught.” It’s a reason Welch carried the witness protection bill that was signed into law a decade ago.

 

A family forever changed: Welch’s mom was a nurse, and his father was a union factory worker at the time. A year later, his father’s company moved to Georgia, but the family didn’t want to leave the Chicago suburbs. So, they stayed put and his father took on two jobs to make ends meet, Welch said. “He’d work one from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then he’d go to another job just to make the same wages of his other job. It was a struggle.”

 

Front-row logic: Welch said his goal was to work hard in school because he “was never the smartest one in the class.” He succeeded, he said, by sitting up front in school and, later, in the General Assembly. Welch’s seat in the House is in the front row and has been since he was elected 10 years ago.

 

How he got the seat: Freshman lawmakers are generally seated in the back because it’s based on seniority. But Welch saw that there was a front-row seat available, so he asked to move up front, he told the students gathered for the Renewing Illinois Summit focusing on careers of political leaders. “I don’t think it’s an accident that I’m sitting here as speaker because I learned so much seeing what goes on on the House floor.”

 

Speaking today: Comptroller Susana Mendoza, former Illinois Congressman and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Erika Harold, director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism will take the stage.

 

Answering questions: Before Thursday’s event, Welch told reporters that the No. 1 issue voters are talking about ahead of the midterms is the economy and inflation. So, it was interesting that during the program's Q&A session, students’ questions focused on another issue: the Safe-T Act.

 

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THE BUZZ

— Lightfoot cancels pre-election property tax increase: “The mayor announced the ‘good news for Chicago taxpayers’ one day after the Chicago Sun-Times reported some of her closest allies had urged her to avoid risking an embarrassing budget defeat,” writes Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

 

— Dumping the tax increase will spare her from having to defend it on the campaign trail, by Tribune’s John Byrne

 

Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: skapos@politico.com

 

WHERE'S JB

No official public events.

 

WHERE'S LORI

Attending a virtual panel via the White House at 10 a.m. ET to highlight the American Rescue Plan’s investments in the community health workforce.

 

WHERE'S TONI

At the Cook County Building at 10:30 a.m. to call attention to natural gas saving measures that are bringing the county closer to the goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

 

THE STATEWIDES

— Comptroller Susana Mendoza asks to change payment methods for families of fallen first responders: “The way the current law is written, money for benefits could run out before the end of the year, requiring the State Legislature to approve supplemental appropriations,” by KFVS’ Colin Baillie.

 

— Federal Highway Administration approves plan to build electric vehicle charging network in Illinois, according to Gov. JB Pritzker’s office

 

— Illinois’ Old State Capitol in Springfield has been accepted to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, officials announced Thursday.

 

TAKING NAMES

 

Nora Daley, daughter of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, has been named the new chair of the Illinois Arts Council. She replaces interim

chair Rhoda Pierce, who will remain on the board and continue to serve as vice chair, according to the governor’s office. “Her vast experience and commitment to the arts will serve our state well,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement announcing her appointment. Daley serves on the board and executive committee of After School Matters, the nonprofit that her late mother built, and she’s headed the board of Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

 

CAMPAIGN MODE

— BEEFING UP: After donating to Democratic candidates up and down the ballot, Gov. JB Pritzker replenished his own campaign fund, plugging $20 million into his campaign war chest.

 

— WHERE’s THE BEEF: Former Gov. Jim Edgar had thoughts on Pritzker’s big donations: “For the party of the rich, we sure don’t show it sometimes. And the party of the Democrats, who are supposed to be the working man, they seem to have all the money,” Edgar said Thursday in Springfield after Pritzker made donations to Democrats up and down the ballot — including $1 million to secretary for state candidate Alexi Giannoulias. Edgar has endorsed Dan Brady, the Republican in the race. Tribune’s Dan Petrella and Jeremy Gorner report.

 

— GOP governor candidate Darren Bailey is now comparing Chicago to ‘unruly child’: And he clarified his comments on former President Donald Trump during an endorsement meeting with the Tribune Editorial Board, via Rick Pearson.

 

— The governor didn’t participate in the Trib’s endorsement session, saying the Tribune Editorial Board has “consistently” been unfair to him, according to Pearson.

 

— Proft pushes a poll: Conservative political operative Dan Proft has revealed a poll that shows Republican Darren Bailey is in striking distance of Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker. The poll, conducted by Fabrizio Lee, says “Pritzker previously was leading Bailey by 10 points in August, but Bailey has chopped that lead in half to 5 in September.” The full poll is on his Play By The Rules PAC’s Facebook page. The poll comes on the heels of a WGN poll showing Pritzker leading Bailey by double digits.

 

  Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Champion American Values PAC (CAVPAC) have endorsed Congressman Darin LaHood for the IL-16 congressional seat. Pompeo called LaHood “a proven champion of freedom, economic prosperity and Midwest values.”

 

— Lightfoot pokes Bailey: Republican governor candidate Darren Bailey marveled at the “beauty of the Chicago skyline” in a tweet, prompting Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to tweet: “Looks like Chicago isn’t a hellhole anymore.”

 

CHICAGO

— Chicago Police must allow those arrested access to a phone within 3 hours, according to consent decree, by WTTW’s Heather Cherone

 

— Panel convenes at Malcolm X College to look for ways to restore trust between cops, public, by Sun-Times’ Allison Novelo

 

— The Roux — a ‘gas station with purpose’ — opens on South Side with pumps, store and literacy center for kids, by Sun-Times’ Mohammad Samra

 

— Runners feel shortchanged after Sunday half-marathon was shortened by a half-mile, by Tribune’s Madeline Buckley

 

2023 MUNICIPAL RACES

— MAYOR's RACE: The reason United Working Families isn’t endorsing Rep. Chuy Garcia: “U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia sent an email asking United Working Families to defer a mayoral endorsement, but the group refused because Garcia was unwilling to give them a timeline for when — or if — he will announce a mayoral run,” by Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman.

 

— Mueze Bawany has been endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union in his race to unseat 11-year incumbent Ald. Debra Silverstein in the 50th Ward.

 

BUSINESS OF POLITICS

— Lake County Board member to apologize for calling League of Women Voters' members 'hags': “Dick Barr called his use of the term ‘off-color’ and said it was fueled by his anger at the group's forums, which he claims are politicized and slanted against fellow Republicans,” by Daily Herald’s Doug T. Graham.

 

SPOTTED

— At Navy Pier: First lady of Chicago Amy Eshleman jumped in on the group “Wobble” at the After School Matters fundraiser last night. The unexpected song and dance routine (similar to the electric slide) had onlookers laughing and cheering, according to a source in the room. The gala was held at Navy Pier’s Offshore rooftop and raised more than $2.5 million for the organization that funds programming for teens.

 

— At  El Jardin’s: Ald. Tom Tunney hosted a fiesta party for aldermanic candidates Kim Walz and Bennett Lawson. Walz is running for the 46th Ward now represented by Ald. James Cappleman, and Lawson is running for Tunney’s 44th Ward seat. Both Tunney and Cappleman aren’t seeking reelection to the council. In the room: state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, Equality Illinois co-founder Art Johnston, Jam Productions’ Jerry Mickelson, Metro Chicago's Joe Shanahan, Trader Todd's Virginia Carstarphen, Baton Club’s James Flint, Bittersweet Pastry’s Esther Griego and Third Coast Hospitality Group’s Michael Gonzalez.

 

— At Gaslight Lincoln Park: Ald. Timmy Knudsen kicked off his campaign last night for the 43rd Ward seat he was just appointed to. In the room: state Rep. Margaret Croke, Ald. James Cappleman, 43rd Ward Committeeman Lucy Moog, former 43rd Ward Ald. Charles Bernardini, former aldermanic candidate Caroline Vickery, state Department of Human Rights director Jim Bennett, city Business Affairs Commissioner Ken Meyer, former Equality Illinois vice chair John Litchfield, former Illinois Human Rights Commissioner Duke Alden and civic leader Roger Simon.

 

CORRUPTION CHRONICLES

— Former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta ordered released early from federal prison due to health concerns: Presta, who turns 72 on Sunday, “was sentenced in April after pleading guilty to taking what he thought was a $5,000 bribe from a red-light camera company executive during an FBI sting,” by Tribune’s Jason Meisner.

 

COOK COUNTY AND COLLARS

— With property taxes late, Cook County offered suburban communities millions in interest-free loans: “Of the roughly 500 local governmental bodies across the suburbs that county officials estimated were eligible, however, only 49 applied, with a total ask of $104 million, according to county data received through an open records request,” by Tribune’s A.D. Quig.

 

— Lurie plans $56M Schaumburg outpost: “Lurie Children’s Hospital seeks state approval to open a 70,000-square-foot outpatient center in the northwest suburb,” by Crain’s Katherine Davis.

 

READER DIGEST

We asked for favorite stops along I-57:

 

Randy J. Bukas, Freeport city manager: “It’s always nice to stop in Marion and watch a Miners’ minor league baseball game.”

 

Ted Cox, a policy adviser: “Li’l Porgy’s in Champaign right off the highway and 17th Street BBQ in Marion.”

 

Brian Munoz of St. Louis Public Radio: The Custard Stand in Sesser, where a replica of the Statue of Liberty greets you.

 

Wayne Williams, Cunningham Township assessor: Fujiyama Japanese Steakhouse in Effingham.

 

What do you use as a guide when filling out your ballot (‘cuz early voting has started, folks!)? Email skapos@politico.com

 

THE NATIONAL TAKE

— ‘It’s My Curse and My Salvation’: For Maggie Haberman, owning the Trump beat has defined her career for better and worse, by POLITICO’s Michael Kruse

 

— Justices shield spouses’ work from potential conflict of interest disclosures, by POLITICO’s Hailey Fuchs, Josh Gerstein and Peter S. Canellos

 

— $80M in development as Field of Dreams kicks off with ballfield construction, via Telegraph Herald

 

A message from World Business Chicago:

 

Chicago has long been heralded as the world's best transportation, distribution, and logistics, hub. The Chicago Venture Summit Future-of-Logistics will put this history on display showing the world how Chicago is leading the way globally in capital investments for logistics tech.

 

"Chicago is the country's leading transportation and logistics hub. From a central location to our diverse talent pipeline and rapidly expanding tech and innovation, logistics tech companies and startups are well positioned for success here," said Michael Fassnacht, President and CEO of World Business Chicago, and Chief Marketing Officer for the City of Chicago. "With an 802% increase in growth capital between 2019 and 2021, we're excited to host investors, corporate innovators, and founders from around the world at the inaugural Chicago Venture Summit, Future of Logistics."

 

Join us for the city's flagship startup and venture capital conference on October 6. Learn more at ChicagoVentureSummit.com

 

TRIVIA

THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to political consultant Clement Balanoff for correctly answering that Dred Scott lived in Fort Armstrong, near Rock Island, from 1833 to 1836. He was an enslaved person whose residence in Illinois, a free state, was the basis for the lawsuit he filed in Missouri in 1846 seeking his freedom.

 

TODAY’s QUESTION: Why did the Woman's Christian Temperance Union march to Chicago’s City Hall in the early 1900s? Email skapos@politico.com

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Today: Attorney General Kwame Raoul, governor’s office public engagement director Allison Flood, Bully Pulpit Interactive partner Bradley Akubuiro, Kindle Communications VP of comms strategy Kelly Drinkwine, ASPC policy director James Lewis, Joyce Foundation executive VP of strategy Whitney Smith, CVS Health’s Kelsey Miller and Notre Dame College Prep assistant director of enrollment Tim Heneghan.

 

Saturday: former state Rep. Dave McSweeney, state Rep. candidate Laura Faver Dias, Republican operative Jesse Johnson, Cook County Dems’ digital director Brady Chalmers, NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, Raise the Floor Alliance's Sophia Olazaba and McDonald’s Corp’s Alisa La.

 

Sunday: state Rep. Bob Rita, former state Rep. Jack Franks, former Crestwood Mayor Louis Presta, former Ald. Willie Cochran, former Cook County Commission candidate Patricia Joan Murphy, CDC Foundation program manager John Arenas, attorney and Grant Park Music Festival supporter Peter Baugher, public affairs consultant David Stricklin, Democratic political operative Caroline Pokrzywinski, The Associated Press’ Tom Krisher, comms consultant Michelle Damico, PR pro Lisa Spathis, Evelo Biosciences comms leader Marlena Baldacci and Chicago mayoral policy adviser Jake Mikva, grandson of THE Ab Mikva.

 


Illinois prosecutors, governor feud over Safe-T Act
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Friday, September 30, 2022  |   Article  |   Andy Banker

A showdown is brewing over the Safe-T Act in Illinois, a new law designed to free thousands from county jails at the start of the new year.

 

Democrats and Republicans are trying to strike down the legislation. One of its chief proponents, Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker, is standing by it.

 

There are currently about 260 inmates in the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville. Madison County State’s Attorney, Tom Haine, has claimed about half of the 260 inmates may no longer be locked up when the new law takes effect. He said that number will include dangerous criminals.

 

“The State of Illinois has already been subject to multiple lawsuits by Democrat state’s attorneys (over the Safe-T Act),” Haine said. “I’m seriously considering it.”

 

The law abolished cash bail in all cases. It still allows suspects to be detained with no bail for “non-probation” offenses like first-degree murder, along with cases like domestic battery and stalking, provided there remains a “real and present” threat to a specific person.

 

Those who oppose the new law say it leaves loopholes for first-time violent offenders with felony crimes to avoid jail while awaiting trial, as long as they did not use a firearm.

 

For instance, an armed robbery suspect appears to be judged differently in the eyes of the law if the suspect used a knife or crowbar to commit the crime, as opposed to a handgun or rifle.

 

“Risk to innocent civilians would no longer be a reason for a judge to detain someone who’s charged for the first time offense of kidnapping, or for the first time offense of burglary; even second degree murder, arson,” Haine said.

 

Haine and Pritzker have been in a political “letter” war recently over the bill. At least three Democrat state’s attorneys, including Jersey County, have filed suits to strike down the law.

 

The governor defended his claims that the new law will help end the disparity of people of color imprisoned because they can’t afford bail.

 

“The Safe-T Act is designed to keep murderers, rapists, and domestic abusers in jail … and to address the problem of the current system which allows those people, murderers and domestic abusers, to buy their way out just by paying bail,” said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“We charge 4,000 felonies a year in Madison County,” Haine said. “We charge many more thousands traffic and misdemeanor cases. We have 268 people currently detained in our jail. Those are not the numbers of an abusive system…our cash bail system is not perfect. It should be reformed. The idea that the system is routinely locking up trivial, low-level offenders on bail is false.”

 

The governor admits changes and adjustments may be needed. Illinois State Senator Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, has filed a new bill to do so before the new law takes effect on January 1.