Reforming the Criminal Justice System
Over the past four decades, the United States has TRIPLED the amount we spend on jails and prisons. An estimated 70 million Americans – nearly one in three adults – have criminal records.
Those numbers are almost unimaginable. And they are absolutely unsustainable.
Here in Illinois, we are spending more than $1.4 billion a year on the state Department of Corrections. Imagine how much more value we would all receive from that investment of tax dollars if we stopped sending people to prison for low-level crimes and minor drug offenses.
It’s time to take a smarter, more humane, more fiscally responsible approach to Illinois’ criminal justice system.
Instead of convicting people of felonies for possession of small amounts of controlled substances, we need to treat addiction like the disease it is. We need to provide treatment to people who are struggling with addiction, so they can return to productive, healthy lives.
We also need to make it easier for people to get back on track after they have served time. Too many people in Illinois are frozen out of the job market because of previous incarcerations – sometimes for minor crimes committed decades ago. As your representative, I will support new job training and placement programs to help former prisoners forge new paths in life which allow them to thrive, succeed and contribute.
Finally, I will work to end the “criminalization of poverty.” It is simply wrong to put people in prison because they can’t afford to pay their fines and fees – and it is penny-wise and pound foolish to spend thousands and thousands of dollars incarcerating people because they don’t have the money for bail. We know how to keep tabs on people while they’re awaiting trial – through electronic monitoring and other systems that are much less expensive than keeping people in prison before being convicted. I will advocate for smarter solutions that help people in poverty to stay out of prison while also reducing the burden on Illinois taxpayers.
Paid for and authorized by Friends of Alyx Pattison. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board's official website (www.elections.il.gov) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.