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Senate Dems unveil public safety priorities

pub safety 020620CHICAGO – Several Democratic members of the newly formed Senate Special Committee on Public Safety met in Chicago today to unveil their public safety priorities for this year’s legislative session.

State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who will chair the committee, spoke of his past legislative accomplishments and how they motivate him to continue that fight.

“I’ve dedicated my adult life toward the fight to reimagine and to win real safety and justice, and last year I passed several laws with this goal in mind, including one to abolish private detention centers,” Peters said. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to personally head up the Special Committee on Public Safety, and I am confident that the committee will lead to a society that is fair, equitable, just and, most importantly, safe.”

State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago), who was appointed to the Senate earlier this month, also spoke at the press conference and talked of the disproportionate targeting of communities of color and the school-to-prison pipeline.

“Right now we have a criminal justice system that lacks justice,” Villanueva said. “In our current system, working class people of color are subject to harsher sentencing, higher bail and increased surveillance by law enforcement. With these oppressive structures in place, true justice cannot exist. We must fundamentally change the way Illinois deals with criminal justice issues and ensure that these systemic inequities are corrected.”

Also present was State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), who discussed inequity based on income and class discrepancies and the prevalence of recidivism for former inmates.

“Too much of our system is focused on knocking people down rather than building them up,” Villivalam said. “Our current criminal justice isn’t equitable; it punishes people for being poor.”

State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) focused on the need to treat inmates with dignity in order to guarantee safety and justice.

“The problems in our criminal justice system harm not only those who are incarcerated, but also their families and communities,” Fine said. “The first step toward fixing those problems is changing the way we work with incarcerated individuals—we must focus on reforms that protect fundamental human rights and dignity both during and after their time in prison so they can lead successful personal and family lives after incarceration.”

The Senate Special Committee on Public Safety will be tasked with hearing a number of measures, including one to put a stop to cash bail.

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