Heal our communities & end mass incarceration! We demand justice!

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Dear​ ​Members​ ​of​ ​the​ ​100th​ ​Illinois​ ​General​ ​Assembly,  

We​, survivors of crime, youth, parents, community members, formerly incarcerated individuals, and families who are impacted by failed policies every day, ​call​ ​for​ a shift in priorities -- away from criminalizing our communities and towards the healing​ of ​our​ ​communities.

We understand first-hand the​ ​trauma​ ​caused​ ​​by the failed ​approach​ of being “tough on crime” instead of “smart on crime,” that leads to an over-reliance on locking people up instead of getting to the root cause of the issue and healing those wounds. We call for policies that lift up and heal our communities. We demand resources to support quality education,​ ​mental​ ​health​ ​services,​ ​jobs and job training, ​addiction treatment, and access to housing.

We ask the legislators of the 100th Illinois General Assembly to ​develop​ ​meaningful,​ ​long-lasting​ ​solutions by:

1. Treating crime​ ​and​ ​mass​ ​incarceration​ as​ ​public​ ​health​ ​crises. We​ ​must​ ​respond​ ​to​ ​addiction​ ​and​ ​mental​ ​health issues​ ​not​ ​with​ ​a​ ​jail​ ​sentence, but​ ​with​ ​treatment. We​ ​must​ ​also​ ​acknowledge​ ​that​ ​mass​ ​incarceration​ ​itself​ ​poses​ ​a​ ​threat​ ​to​ ​public​ ​health, as​ ​it​ ​causes​ ​physical​ ​and​ ​mental​ ​stress​ ​in​ ​our​ ​communities.

2. Prioritizing prevention over punishment. We need to invest in our communities by pursuing and funding strategies that prevent recidivism by preparing people for healthy reentry into society, and proactively prevent people from falling into the system in the first place. We call for investment in jobs, drug treatment, mental health services, access to programs, and justice-system alternatives. Research shows that these type of investments can better address the root causes of crime and violence while improving public health, offering safe and productive learning environments in schools, and reducing government spending overtime.

3. Supporting community leadership for community growth. A “One size fits all” approach does not work! Every community has different needs, strengths and challenges. We must develop local leadership to take concrete steps toward achieving a vision of justice that provides space for healing and promotes safer, healthier schools and communities.

​For decades we have been on the same road of a misguided approach on crime. The time is now to shift and use effective strategies and policies that will help transform our communities, our justice system, and our state.



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