Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has approved a package of bills aimed at preventing young people who’ve run afoul of the law from falling into a cycle of incarceration reports the Chicago Tribune. Flanked by Democratic lawmakers with whom he has been warring over the state’s budget mess, Rauner said the legislation was just one step in a larger effort to change the state’s criminal justice system.
“We need to think strategically, thoughtfully, compassionately, about helping people come back, have a second chance and be productive citizens,” Rauner said. “Much of our crime is occurring because of mental health issues, because of addiction issues and lack of job skills. We need to think about those and integrate them in our justice system so we can prevent crime in the future, lower our prison population and have a more just and fair society.”
The bill signing was a rare display of bipartisan agreement between the Republican governor and his Democratic foes in the General Assembly, but that spirit of compromise was overshadowed by the broader political fight that continues to rage as both sides look ahead to the November election. Rauner used his veto powers to kill a bill that would have ended the state’s practice of suing prison inmates to recover the costs of their incarceration, one that critics say makes it harder for people to get back on their feet after they’ve been released from jail. Rauner made an early pledge shortly after taking office that he would work to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent over 10 years. The first-term governor found willing allies in that cause, particularly among Chicago Democrats, and it has become one of the few areas where he can tout bipartisan accomplishment