Criminal justice matters to be explored by Illinois House committee

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Sentence and Punishment on Thursday, February 28, 2013

In a both just and necessary move, the Illinois House of Representatives has committed to exploring criminal justice inequalities within the state. Specifically, the House has created a committee tasked with addressing these inequalities. Given that the foundations of criminal defense law mandate that the system itself is just, transparent and treats similarly situated individuals equally, the responsibilities of this committee are truly important.

The committee has been named the Restorative Justice Committee and will be chaired by Rep. LaShawn Ford. Unfortunately, Rep. Ford’s recent alleged criminal activity is casting a shadow upon the creation of the committee. However, the larger issues that the committee has been tasked with will hopefully soon become the focus of related media attention and legislative action rather than Rep. Ford’s alleged exploits.

The committee will be empowered with the ability to explore wide-ranging factors that contribute to inequalities within the system as well as the scope of the inequality itself. In addition, committee members have expressed a desire to research mental health issues affecting those in the system and to ease the often tough transition that many inmates have back into society.

Given that the Restorative Justice Committee is invested in a variety of issues already being explored by other committees, there is likely to be some overlap in the work that it does. However, increased attention on any level to inequalities within the Illinois criminal justice system is certainly a welcome addition to the legislative agenda. Hopefully the committee’s work will profoundly impact the functioning of the system for the benefit of all residents.

Source: WBEZ 91.5, “New Illinois House committee to investigate all elements of criminal justice system,” Tony Arnold, Feb. 4, 2013