CHICAGO – The State of Illinois today took a transformative step toward modernizing its supervision system and strengthening public safety as Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 423 into law. The bipartisan legislation earned overwhelming support, including a unanimous vote in the Illinois House, for its commonsense, evidence-based solutions that make Illinois’ supervision system more transparent and effective. It is expected to benefit more than 260,000 people on supervision and save the state of Illinois $16.5 million over the next five years.
At a morning ceremony at the North Lawndale Employment Network in Downtown Chicago, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB423 alongside REFORM Alliance Co-founders Meek Mill and Michael Rubin, REFORM Chief Executive Officer Robert Rooks, Speaker Pro Tem Jehan Gordon-Booth, Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, and more than a dozen members of the Illinois Secure Communities coalition, including many formerly incarcerated leaders.
Speaking at the event, REFORM Alliance co-founder Meek Mill said, “When I was on probation, the system did much more to hold me back than help me succeed. And my experience is just a reflection of millions of other stories that go untold. So it’s an honor to be a part of making the system work better for families in Illinois and across the country. Speaker Pro Tem Jehan Gordon-Booth and Governor Pritzker, we thank you for your leadership.”
“We’re not just changing a law in Illinois; we’re reshaping the future of probation and parole,” said Fanatics CEO and REFORM Co-chair Michael Rubin. “Supervision is too often a trap when it should be a support system. This new law changes that. It rewards accountability, encourages self-improvement, and gives people the tools to build better lives for themselves. I thank the leaders in Illinois for their leadership and we are looking forward to working with lawmakers across the country who are working to improve the lives of millions of our fellow citizens.”
“Probation and parole reform is a public safety solution and economic catalyst,” said REFORM Alliance CEO Robert Rooks. “At REFORM, our goal is to transform our nation’s probation and parole system into one that removes barriers to work and moves people from the system into the community. This legislation is a public safety solution that will create pathways to economic opportunity and stability for individuals and families across Illinois. We applaud Governor Pritzker, Speaker Pro Tem Gordon-Booth, and all who supported this legislation to strengthen public safety in Illinois.”
“Criminal justice reform has been a hallmark of my administration since my first day as Governor, and I couldn’t be prouder to sign into law this meaningful legislation that will make mandatory supervised release a more equitable, fair process for all Illinoisans,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’re giving people an opportunity to make positive change and contribute to their communities, while completing their supervision terms—and I thank all the advocates and lawmakers who made this transformative reform possible.“
“SB 423 is legislation grounded in evidence, equity and fairness,” said Speaker Pro Tem Jehan Gordon-Booth. “I am thrilled to see it signed into law. Thank you, Governor Pritzker, my colleagues in the legislature, REFORM Alliance, and the Illinois Secure Communities coalition. I know this is going to be good for individuals on supervision, good for communities, and will increase safety for us all.”
“Our entire statewide coalition is celebrating this victory today,” said Avalon Betts-Gaston, Director of the Illinois Alliance for Reentry and Justice and a member of the Illinois Secure Communities Coalition. “This legislation was informed by people who have been through the supervision system and dozens of groups that work on the frontlines of ensuring safety and justice in our communities. I’m grateful there was overwhelming support for this bill in the legislature and that Governor Pritzker has now signed it into law. My hope is that we can continue to center those with lived experience in the development of policies that give people a fair chance to reunite with their communities and eliminate barriers that unnecessarily prevent us from positively contributing to our communities.”
“SB 423 is an important turning point for our justice system here in Illinois,” Said Keleen Bishop, a Peoria resident, artist, and Illinois Central College student currently on Mandatory Supervised Release who was in attendance at the event. “It shifts the focus of supervision toward empowerment – recognizing and rewarding our accomplishments while removing roadblocks to success. I want to thank Speaker Pro Tem Gordon-Booth, REFORM Alliance, and Governor Pritzker for recognizing that our past does not define our future and that formerly incarcerated people can go on to contribute to our communities and economy.”
SB423 goes into effect January 1st, 2024 and includes these evidence-based provisions:
- Improving education credits that incentivize people on parole or Mandatory Supervised Release (MSR) to obtain a degree, career certificate, or vocational technical certificate.
- Streamlining early termination processes and increasing government transparency by standardizing review timelines, encouraging officers to recommend early termination for people who have a track record of success, and providing clear feedback for those denied.
- Tailoring Supervision to an individualized approach to each person’s unique circumstances, focusing on addressing root causes of crime and enhancing public safety. It also limits unnecessary drug testing, saving resources and reducing work interruptions.
- Expanding virtual reporting permanently for remote check-ins for all forms of supervision in Illinois, reducing disruption to work or childcare responsibilities, and removing barriers to success.
More than 100,000 people are currently on probation, parole, or Mandatory Supervised Release in Illinois, many of whom face insurmountable challenges under the current system. Instead of helping people turn their lives around, Illinois’ supervision system too often operates as a revolving door back to prison. A Department of Corrections (DOC) report revealed that more than 1 in 4 – or 25% – of people across the country released from prison end up back behind bars for a technical violation (non-criminal violation) like missing a meeting with their supervision officer) within three years of their release.
The law is projected to significantly improve outcomes for those under supervision in Illinois, enhancing community stability and safety. Illinois now joins several other states where similar reforms have strengthened public safety, modernized supervision systems, reduced the number of people unnecessarily on supervision and produced better outcomes for families and communities.
REFORM has now passed 17 bipartisan bills in 11 states, creating new pathways that did not exist for more than 677,000 people to exit the system over the next five years.
About REFORM Alliance
REFORM Alliance aims to transform probation and parole by changing laws, systems, and culture to create real pathways to work and wellbeing. A justice system that holds people accountable and redirects back to work and wellbeing leads to stronger families and safer communities. Instead of keeping people trapped in a revolving door from probation/parole to prison — which costs taxpayers billions of dollars — we’re working to move people from the justice system into stability. REFORM’s story starts with the unjust re-imprisonment of recording artist Meek Mill. The shocking two-to-four-year sentence he received for popping a wheelie spurred the international #FreeMeek movement, which led to release on bail and eventually his freedom. Although Meek had the resources and public platform to fight his case, his case is only one of millions. The vast majority of people trapped in the system don’t get their stories told, or have the resources to fight back. On January 23, 2019, a world-class group of philanthropists and activists came together to launch the REFORM Alliance to change this.
About Illinois Secure Communities Coalition:
The Illinois Secure Communities Coalition is made up of more than 60 groups across the state of Illinois who are working together to improve Illinois’ supervision system and build safer, stronger, more prosperous communities. Our bipartisan coalition includes advocacy organizations, business leaders, employers, faith leaders, concerned citizens, and other key stakeholders from across the state. We believe that by working together, we can make a real impact on the lives of individuals and communities affected by the supervision system in Illinois.