Decarcerate Illinois

We call on Illinois lawmakers to take a realistic view of what community safety means and how to achieve it. Our current systems have been failing individuals, families, and communities for generations. The needs of survivors are not being met and the current system disrespects and harms accused and convicted people, making them and their families unsafe. We can no longer condone the harms of our current laws and allow them to continue to separate families and perpetuate harm for generations. Let's act!

From commitment to action! Please support bills that offer a truly progressive step forward in ending our reliance on carceral policies and toward proven policies for community safety for all.



The high price of incarceration

Illinois taxpayers are spending billions on incarceration for sentences handed out to Chicago defendants from 2000 through 2011. The costs were calculated based on an estimate that average inmates serve out 50 percent of their sentences.

Download this excellent Chicago Reporter graph on the cost of incarceration in Chicago.

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 
A Prison Policy Initiative briefing by Peter Wagner and Leah Sakala, March 12, 2014  

Does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? And do the 688,000 people released every year include those getting out of local jails? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of federal, state, local, and other types of confinement — and the data collectors that keep track of them — are so fragmented. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but definitional issues and incompatibilities make it hard to get the big picture for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks.

Piecing together the available information offers some clarity. This briefing presents the first graphic we’re aware of that aggregates the disparate systems of confinement in this country, which hold more than 2.4 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.


HB5686 Fact Sheet (2013)

HB5686 amends the Probate Act to fix gaps that allow violations of parental rights and court authority. At present, petitioners are not required to tell the court if there already is a short-term guardian appointed for the children. Also, guardians can move children out of state without consent of the parent or the court, and without even providing notice to either. HB5686 provides clarity and consistency, and brings the Probate Act in line with Domestic Relations and Child Protection Divisions when considering whether it is in a child’s best interest to move out of state.

Download the HB5686 Fact Sheet


HB4538 Fact Sheet (2013)

HB4538 provides for minors to have individualized court hearings to determine whether they should be tried as adults. Right now Illinois is one of just 14 states with no ability for individual review of the decision to try a minor as an adult. HB4538 allows a child’s age, alleged degree of participation in an offense, and individual circumstances to be taken into consideration in making that decision.

Download the HB4538 Fact Sheet

Policy Papers and Documents