Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill into law that implements more “criminal justice reform” to Illinois’ parole system by limiting drug testing of parolees, among other changes.
Pritzker on Friday signed Senate Bill 423, which implements reforms to the mandatory supervised release system, also known as parole.
“This legislation supports the reintegration of individuals into the community while lowering the possibility of recidivism, increasing public safety, and lowering taxpayer costs,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
The governor was joined by Lt. Gov Juliana Stratton, state and local officials, advocates and artist and activist Meek Mill, who has long been a proponent of criminal justice reform.
“Today, I will sign legislation that focuses our Mandatory Supervised Release system on creating successful outcomes for those who were formerly incarcerated and improves the safety and peace of our communities,” Pritzker said.
“It’s a system that is evidence-based and transparent — which is just what our families and neighborhoods deserve. This bill speaks to the promise of Illinois: a promise of equity, empathy, public safety, and true justice,” Pritzker said.
Stratton said residents in the state have been “deprived of the support and resources needed to successfully re-enter our communities after incarceration.”
“These reforms are critical steps to infuse humanity into our legal system so people have the groundwork to reach their full potential,” Stratton said.
“We are creating pathways for people impacted by the criminal legal system to be their best selves. This is how we build toward a vision that uplifts every Illinoisan to thrive,” Stratton added.
The legislation, which goes into effect January 1, will improve education credits that incentivize people on parole to obtain a degree, career certificate or vocational-technical certificate.
The governor’s office said the legislation will also streamline early termination processes and increase government transparency by standardizing review timelines, encouraging officers to recommend early termination for people who have a “track record of success” and providing clear feedback for those denied.
Supervision will also now be tailed to an individualized approach to each person’s circumstances, focusing on addressing “root causes of crime and enhancing public safety,” the governor’s office said. It also limits “unnecessary” drug testing.
The legislation will expand virtual reporting permanently for remote check-ins for all forms of supervision in Illinois in an effort to reduce disruption to work or childcare responsibilities.
More than 100,000 individuals are currently serving time on probation, parole or mandatory supervised release in Illinois.
The governor’s office claims that more than 25% of them return to prison within three years of their release due to non-criminal technical violations, such as missing a meeting with a probation officer.
The legislation was drafted by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Prisoner Review Board, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, Reform Alliance and the Illinois Sheriff’s Association along with other groups.