State’s Attorney Kim Fox announces new recidivism initiative
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has announced the launch of its New Penalty Initiative. The initiative uses a new state law to review cases and identify people incarcerated with sentences who may be eligible for a new sentence in the interests of justice. You will find details of the criteria for potential re-taxation here.
Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2129 (SB 2129) in July 2021, allowing prosecutors, at their discretion, to seek the reincarceration of incarcerated individuals whose original sentence no longer serves the interests of justice. The sentencing court then makes the ultimate decision on whether a person should be sentenced again. The law took effect on January 1, 2022, and was championed by Rep. Kelly Cassidy in the House and Senator Robert Peters in the Senate. Illinois is the fourth state after California, Washingtonand Oregon promulgate recidivism laws at the initiative of the prosecutor.
In partnership with the association For the people, CCSAO will analyze prison data to identify potential cases and review the incarcerated person’s personal and criminal history, including medical records, prison disciplinary history, and rehabilitation records while incarcerated (e.g. results education, work history and programming). After conducting a holistic and thorough review, the CCSAO will determine whether to ask an incarcerated person for a lesser prison sentence and/or potential release. The CCSAO also works closely with Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, a community-based organization that develops strong reintegration plans and ensures sufficient resources and support for those likely to be released under the Reintegration Initiative. Additionally, Winston & Strawn LLP provides pro bono legal services to individuals identified for re-conviction.
“There is an idea that somehow the belief in justice, fairness and fairness should only be taken into account by defense lawyers and not by prosecutors. The impact of injustice on these individuals, by actors including prosecutors, deserves to be corrected,” said state attorney Kim Foxx. “Through the Resentencing Initiative, prosecutors can begin to address the fact that many black and brown people are still incarcerated today under the failed policies of the past, even though they have been rehabilitated and represent few threat to public safety.”
The impacts of the mass incarceration and harsh sentencing practices of the past are far-reaching. From an economic perspective, incarcerating people for long periods of time after they have ceased to pose a threat to public safety takes away taxpayers’ money that could be used for health care, housing , education and infrastructure. In 2015, Illinois spent over $1.5 billion on prison spending— i.e. $33,507 per inmate. By comparison, in 2016, Illinois spent about $29.2 million on public education.—or $14,180 per student.
“In 2018, we conceptualized and helped pass the first national prosecutor-initiated recidivism law in California,” said Hillary Blout, CEO and Founder of For the people. “After years of working closely with elected prosecutors to lead the implementation of the law, we have seen incredible success stories in our state and beyond. We are pleased to partner with Cook County in supporting their efforts to reverse unjust and excessive sentencing. We are deeply grateful for CCSAO’s leadership in bringing families and communities together across Illinois.
“Striving to improve existing justice systems is at the very heart of our firm’s pro bono practice,” said Gregory A. McConnell, pro bono lead attorney for Winston & Strawn. “This unprecedented initiative offers hope that these systems can achieve balance and fairness. We are pleased to facilitate the active and effective use by Cook County State’s Attorneys of this remarkable new justice reform tool,” he added.
The CCSAO believes in a victim-centered approach in this work and will continue to ensure that the rights of victims are respected and their voices are heard throughout the re-sentencing process. Victims will be notified at various stages of the re-sentencing process and will have the opportunity to submit a written or oral statement at the hearing with their input and recommendation. Under the new law, victims of crime will have all the rights currently afforded to them under the Crime Victims and Witnesses Rights Actwhich are the same rights granted to them throughout the trial and sentencing.
The Resentencing Initiative builds on State Attorney Foxx’s commitment to enacting criminal justice reforms grounded in science, data, and evolving justice. His vision of success is not measured by convictions. She believes in doing what is right, striving for the best and fairest results, whatever form that takes. In the interests of public safety and justice, the Foxx administration offers sentencing relief for cannabis cases, supports criminal justice reform like landmark legislation banning deceptive interrogation practices for minors, overturning wrongful convictions and maintaining an almost 90% approval rate for felony cases. .