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Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priority

Senate Democrats make social justice reform and criminal justice reform top priorityThousands of police body cameras will hit the streets in the new year under major reforms sponsored by Senate Democrats in an effort to increase public accountability and confidence in the wake of scandals and unrest.

The new law, Senate Bill 1304, takes effect Jan. 1 and sets the official parameters for the use of police body cameras, increases training and reporting requirements for officers and clarifies the public’s right to access the videos. It is one of several key criminal and social justice reforms enacted by Senate Democrats in 2015, covering everything from protecting students’ educational rights to common-sense consumer laws aiding women trying to escape domestic violence.

“We’ve made great strides this year in defending the public’s right to be properly protected, with justice for all,” said State Senator Kwame Raoul, a Hyde Park Democrat who emerged as one of the state’s leading reform advocates.

Hunter: U of Chicago trauma center is first step

hunter youthjobsCHICAGO – In response to University of Chicago’s announcement of a $40 million investment in expanding their hospital to include a Level 1 trauma center on Chicago’s South Side, Sen. Mattie Hunter released the following statement:

“Chicago’s South Side is long overdue for a level 1 trauma center. While I am glad the University of Chicago is invested in our community, this is only the first step. Residents in Englewood and farther south west still need resources for trauma care,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter, who has stood at the forefront of this issue.

“I hope the medical community will continue to invest in facilities that will help all of our residents.”

Raoul, Black Caucus call for expanded DOJ investigation in Chicago

raoul DOJ chicagoRequest federal probe into IPRA, Office of Cook County State’s Attorney

CHICAGO — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) and the other 31 members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus called today for an expanded investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into not only the Chicago Police Department, but the Independent Police Review Authority and the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney. In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the ILBC expressed support for this morning’s announcement that the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is initiating a patterns and practices investigation into the CPD but asked the federal agency to press farther by examining the entire apparatus through which allegations of police misconduct are addressed in Chicago.

Illinois students still face financial uncertainty as budget impasse continues

stadelman bennett mapgrant blogSPRINGFIELD- Illinois students work hard to attend our state’s public universities and community colleges. Many students like Trisha Rodriquez, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Belvidere, worked 30 hours a week at Kmart throughout high school saving up to pay for tuition.

As students begin to wrap up finals and head back home for winter break, students like Rodriquez aren’t sure what the future of their college education will look like without need-based state financial aid.