cpz 1119SPRINGFIELD – In order to center the lived experiences of people who have been incarcerated in conversations and groups working to address injustices in the criminal legal system, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas is leading an initiative requiring two members of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Board be people who have experienced the criminal legal system firsthand.

“Without those who have firsthand experience of going  through the criminal legal system, we lose what should be an indispensable perspective. In our highest institutions we need to empower those who can speak directly to the carceral system and can inform how we enact effective change,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “True reform and true justice start by taking the voices of those affected by the system seriously. We start doing that by ensuring their seat at the table.”

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Board develops programs for the improvement of law enforcement and the administration of the criminal legal system. Currently, the board is made up of 25 members serving four-year terms without compensation, 11 of whom are voting members appointed by the governor. The board administers private, state and federal grant programs related to all phases of the administration of criminal justice. The members also engage in research on the federal, state and local criminal legal systems.

To ensure that people with lived experience in the criminal legal system have a voice in making decisions about how it should work, House Bill 1119 would require that two out of the 6 public members of this board are individuals who have been incarcerated.

"We need people with lived experience at the table making the decisions about our criminal legal system," said State Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago). "This bill will make the Criminal Justice Information Authority more diverse, inclusive, and responsive to the needs of the people it serves."

“HB 1119 will be critical in providing important perspectives for policymakers from those in the Illinois criminal justice system, especially Black and Latinx individuals who are disproportionately impacted, as well as addressing inmates’ mental health,” said Hannah Keller, Midwest Policy Manager for Young Invincibles. “Uplifting the need for representation of those with lived experience in the policymaking process is essential and this bill provides necessary action to do just that.”

House Bill 1119 passed the Senate on Friday.

Category: Press Releases

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