Our criminal justice system is skewed by race and wealth, and has adverse residual effects on all our families and communities. Without comprehensive criminal justice reform, our city is steadily being robbed of young men and women who would be workers and taxpayers, people actively involved in their children’s lives, or even community leaders.
Instead of allowing people to languish in prisons for non-violent offenses, sound criminal justice reform can actually help ensure the safety and vitality of all of our communities. Bill believes that public policy around criminal justice reform should not be driven by fear, but compelled by pragmatism.
As Commissioner, Bill will advocate for the following reforms, including:
- Improving police and community relations;
- Alleviating the overcrowding of the Cook County Jail system;
- Improving our Juvenile Justice system;
- Supporting Restorative Justice programs;
- Reducing the number of Minority Youth coming in contact with the Juvenile Justice system.
Bill believes that people who return home from prison need an opportunity to work and to become productive community members. As Commissioner, he will support and promote initiatives for the successful re-integration, particularly those that:
- Address directly the challenges of inadequate housing, the most pressing challenge for people with criminal records returning to society;
- Provide transitional employment, time-limited, wage-paying jobs that combine real work, skill development, and support services to help participants overcome substantial barriers to employment.
The issues with Cook County Jail, where hundreds if not thousands of inmates have some level of mental illness, have been well documented. Bill believes that addressing mental illness can reduce the traffic in the criminal justice system, both saving money to taxpayers and treating people with mental illness more appropriately and humanely.
As Commissioner, Bill will:
- Promote initiatives that ensure access to medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment for people with criminal records, incorporating experienced and successful community-based organizations;
- Seek to replicate successful programs like the Community Triage Center in the Roseland neighborhood, a viable alternative to jail for the seriously mental illness that take those who may be in trouble with the law and divert them into treatment.