* This was a campaign promise…
Surrounded by criminal justice reform advocates at the Safer Foundation, Governor JB Pritzker took executive action establishing the Justice, Equity and Opportunity (JEO) Initiative that will be housed under and spearheaded by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.
The JEO Initiative will centralize the state’s criminal justice reform efforts by fostering coordination and collaboration among stakeholders, executive agencies and organizations from across the state. With the goal of creating a justice system that reflects Illinois’ values, the initiative will conduct research, pilot programs and advocate for legislation to ensure all branches of government are working proactively to expand fairness and equity.
“For Illinois to truly lead on criminal justice reform, we must bring real and lasting economic opportunity to every corner of our state. It’s no accident that this initiative puts Justice, Equity and, Opportunity side by side,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “With decades of experience working to bring reform to our system of justice in Illinois, I can think of no better person to spearhead this initiative than our Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton.”
“Criminal justice reform has been a focus throughout my professional career and I thank Governor Pritzker for believing in me to lead this initiative, and I will proudly oversee these much-needed efforts,” said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “This is needed because our justice system is not working. The JEO Initiative will move us from a strictly punitive system to one that examines the root causes of the issues we face while creating solutions that put community at the center.”
Addressing needed reforms at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will be a top priority of the initiative. Currently around 43,000 people are imprisoned in the IDOC prison system, which was built for about 32,000. Violent crime has increased 18 percent between 2016 and 2017. Illinois spends more than $1.3 billion a year on IDOC, with budgets increasing even as the prison population decreases. And nearly 48 percent of people released from prison will recidivate within the following three years.
The JEO Initiative will work to reverse those trends through the following components:
Within 90 days, the initiative will deliver a report to the Office of the Governor describing the goals and the deliverables for its first year.
On January 1 of each year, the initiative will deliver a report to the Office of the Governor describing their accomplishments, as well as the opportunities and challenges the Initiative encounters and the goals and deliverables for the upcoming year.
Spearheaded by Lt. Gov. Stratton, the initiative will have three full-time staff within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
The EO is here.