Press Release - Friday, July 28, 2023
Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation Increasing Mandatory Supervised Release Transparency, Advancing Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois
Legislation will increase public safety while reducing the likelihood of reincarceration
CHICAGO — Further advancing public safety and criminal justice reform in Illinois, today Governor JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 423, implementing mandatory supervised release (MSR) reforms. This legislation supports the reintegration of individuals into the community while lowering the possibility of recidivism, increasing public safety, and lowering taxpayer costs. At today's bill signing, the Governor was joined by Lt. Gov Juliana Stratton, state and local officials, advocates, and artist and activist Meek Mill who has long been a proponent for criminal justice reform.
"Today, I will sign legislation that focuses our Mandatory Supervised Release system on creating successful outcomes for those who were formerly incarcerated and improves the safety and peace of our communities," said Governor JB Pritzker. "It's a system that is evidence-based and transparent — which is just what our families and neighborhoods deserve. This bill speaks to the promise of Illinois: a promise of equity, empathy, public safety, and true justice."
"For too long, individuals have been deprived of the support and resources needed to successfully re-enter our communities after incarceration. These reforms are critical steps to infuse humanity into our legal system so people have the groundwork to reach their full potential," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. " We are creating pathways for people impacted by the criminal legal system to be their best selves. This is how we build toward a vision that uplifts every Illinoisan to thrive."
The legislation, which goes into effect January 1, 2024, will promote public safety and community success by implementing criminal justice reforms including:
- 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.
These actions build on Illinois' nation-leading criminal justice reform practices. In Illinois alone, more than 100,000 individuals are currently serving time on probation, parole, or mandatory supervised release—and more than 25% return to prison within three years of their release due to non-criminal technical violations such as missing a meeting with a probation officer.
The new, evidence-based provisions will create a more transparent supervision system that will lower recidivism, support communities, and reduce supervisor caseloads to better serve the individuals most at risk while still holding individuals responsible.
"This is an important modernization effort that will encourage job training and education so those who have served their time can reenter society with a plan that will help them be successful," said Illinois Senate President Pro Tem Bill Cunningham, (D-Chicago). "The law brings more transparency to the system, allowing offenders to have clear rules on the correct steps to take for parole and mandatory supervised release."
"If we want to effectively reduce recidivism, we have to take a responsible, modern approach toward supervised release," said Speaker Pro Tempoe and State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, (D-Peoria). "This measure builds on the work we are doing to update our judicial process, improve public safety and give people an opportunity to chart a better path forward."
The legislation was drafted by the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Prisoner Review Board, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, Reform Alliance, and the Illinois Sheriff's Association, in addition to multiple community groups.
"When I was on probation, the system did much more to hold me back than help me succeed," said REFORM Alliance co-founder Meek Mill. "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."
"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."
"It's easy for us to think about locking people up, but the reality is 90 percent of the people locked up will be released," said Brenda Palms, NLEN President and CEO. "This bill will help elevate the importance of clearly defining how we reintegrate people back into society, something the North Lawndale Employment Network has been working on for 15 years. By signing this bill, the governor is telling us we can begin the process immediately. By keeping people who have made mistakes with their families and their communities, we are creating a chance for everyone to benefit."
"This legislation is, in its essence, about families. When you're locked up, your kids are locked up as well," said Sadie Joseph, Sweet Beginnings participant. "To get out sooner means you'll be able to continue to raise your kids and get back on your feet. It means the world to your kids. But it's also about the value of a second chance. When we're given a second chance, most people take it and won't mess up."
The bill was signed at North Lawndale Employment Network, which recently opened their new workforce development campus, social enterprise production room and offices, and the Beelove Café in August 2021.