* Aside from the governor’s truly bone-headed, short-sighted and overly bean-counting veto of Medicaid funding for heroin treatment, this has been a tremendous year for criminal justice reform.
Yes, I know, we’ve talked about it several times before, but the signatures keep coming…
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been on a crusade this year to keep some accused shoplifters and trespassers from having extended stays behind bars before trial.
Dart recently notched a bipartisan victory in that campaign when Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the so-called “Rocket Docket” bill into law.
Rep. Mike Zalewski and Sen. Bill Cunningham, both Democrats, were the primary sponsors of the bill envisioned by Dart. Zalewski is from west suburban Riverside and Cunningham is from Chicago.
Rauner signed the bill late Friday, according to Dart’s office. It passed unanimously in the Senate and by a margin of 71-36 in the House.
“This is a good first step to rethinking how our criminal justice system works to punish and correct unlawful behavior,” Zalewski said.
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has supported the measure. So has Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who visited the jail in July.
Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation allowing immunity from prosecution to minors who call 911 to get help.
Rauner on Monday signed the bill sponsored by Legislative Democrats, Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood and Sen. Heather Steans. It provides legal protection for a person needing medical help and the person who called for him or her.
Police would have the authority to determine whether protection from legal discipline is appropriate.
The plan is modeled after a similar one addressing heroin overdoses. At least two dozen other states have similar laws.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) on Monday signed into law a sweeping reform of the state’s school discipline policies, putting Illinois at the forefront of the nationwide push to make school discipline less exclusionary and more effective.
Senate Bill 100 eliminates automatic “zero tolerance” suspensions and expulsions, and requires that schools exhaust all other means of intervention before expelling students or suspending them for more than three days. The bill also prohibits fines and fees for misbehavior, and requires schools to communicate with parents about why certain disciplinary measures are being used.
Under the new law, which goes into effect in September of 2016, students returning from suspension will be allowed to make up the school work they missed, and students suspended for more than four days will be offered access to support services, like academic counseling and mental health professionals. […]
According to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, Illinois has one of the widest disparities in the nation between suspended black students and their white classmates. During the 2012-13 school year, Chicago Public Schools issued suspensions for 32 of every 100 black students, compared to just five of every 100 white students.
* Black & White: Middle Schools Discipline With BIST Intentions