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Trotter measure demanding payment of exoneree claims passes Senate

trotter 051917SPRINGFIELD – Today, legislation meant to create a continuous fund for claims by people wrongfully imprisoned passed the Senate. Senate Bill 1993 is vital to keep up these court-ordered claim payments. It has been nearly three years since the Illinois Court of Claims stopped paying these claims because of the budget stalemate.

The passing of this legislation through the Senate is only the first step in properly restoring court-ordered claims payments for those who have been unjustly sentenced to time behind bars. The budget impasse in Illinois has stopped the claim payments of 20 exonerated inmates owned a total of $3.4 million. Their suffering was caused by the failure of the justice system to properly dispense rulings, but if this bill passes the House we are one step closer to providing those exonerated with some closure and monetary compensation.  

State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the sponsor of the bill, has called the legislation an important step in providing equity for people unjustly held in the penal system that have won in court:

“This is a critical piece of legislation that passed out of the Illinois Senate. It is our duty to ensure that those receiving claims for being unjustly incarcerated are compensated. These court-ordered claims can be used to rebuild their lives torn apart by convictions that never should have occurred. We need to be accountable to those that have been wronged by the penal system and found favorable claim rulings in a court of law. These court-ordered funds give relief to those who have been wrongly incarcerated in a timely manner. ”

Senator Donne E. Trotter is a Chicago Democrat and leading advocate for justice reform.

Trotter bill expands HIV testing for at-risk mothers

HIV testingSPRINGFIELD – Yesterday, legislation intended to offer additional HIV testing for at risk pregnant woman in their third trimester passed an important Senate committee. House Bill 2800 equips pregnant women with the another opportunity to know their HIV status during the prenatal stage to make informed decisions that will benefit them and in return reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

This crucial measure adds on to the Perinatal HIV Prevention Act by furthering efforts to provide vital information to pregnant at risk women. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), answered the call to push for increased HIV testing opportunities among disadvantaged pregnant women to increase awareness:

“This is a significant piece of legislation that passed out of the Public Health Committee. It is vital that we increase HIV testing for at-risk pregnant woman in their third trimester as opposed to only testing in the first trimester to prevent the spread of disease. Too often we see the need to do more good in improvised communities as far as HIV testing is concerned and we ignore it, but no more. By offering additional prenatal testing, we decrease the chance of transmission to the infant.”

Trotter: Antiquated, unfair bond process hurts the poor

trotter 032017SPRINGFIELD – To end a system that punishes the poor, State Senator Donne Trotter is sponsoring a proposal that eliminates the state’s antiquated monetary bond process.

“Rather than providing all persons arrested an equitable opportunity to leave custody, it is only afforded to those who can pay the bond,” said Trotter, D-Chicago. “This antiquated bond process only increases the likelihood of low-income people being arrested for petty crimes and enduring harsher conditions than people from affluent backgrounds who commit the same crime. These trends of partiality toward people with wealth are prevalent in the justice system.”

The budget impasse has created a greater need for cost saving measures in Illinois. One area in great need of reform, said Trotter, is the prison system. The state squanders valuable resources on the holding of low risk offenders if they are unable to make bond.

The legislation is Senate Bill 552 which is in the Senate Criminal Law committee. An identical bill, House Bill 3717, has a hearing on Tuesday in the House Judiciary-Criminal Committee. These two pieces of legislature are critical in the fight against inequity in the justice system that hurts minorities and poorer families.

Senator Donne E. Trotter is a Chicago Democrat and leading advocate for justice reform.

Trotter stands on the right side of history

trotter 021517This is the third year that Illinois has gone without a budget proposal. People are suffering and going without the resources they so desperately need because those in power are not willing to compromise for the greater good. Yesterday, the governor had the opportunity to restore the faith of investors and residents by providing a decisive plan for a balanced budget, but this was not the route he took.

In the budget address, the governor uttered a few phrases from Lincoln’s remarks to Congress on December 1, 1862: "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew." But he left out the end of the phrase, and dare I say the most important part: We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. The word “disenthrall” means to free from bondage and or liberate. Lincoln spoke of the United States freeing itself from the dogmas of the antiquated past, which required the relinquishing of slavery. A month after this speech, Lincoln made history by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. So it is not farfetched to believe that Lincoln would encourage us to liberate ourselves from the contention of the past and moved forward in an effort to save the state.

Prior to taking political office,  a 45-year-old Lincoln had this to say on July, 1 1854: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.”

Rauner has a choice: he can either be the change he wants to see or continue the dismantling of the state he calls home. But one thing is for certain, something must be done to alleviate the devastation felt by poor communities all over Illinois as the financial burden is not equally distributed. It is felt most keenly by fiscally strapped neighborhoods that rely on social services many would deem vital. In order to provide basic services to the people who need it most, localities need funding.

Even before Lincoln’s entrance into the political arena, he was well aware of the role that government plays in the lives of its citizens. When government runs efficiently, it maintains legitimacy, and when it fails to do so it is delegitimized. The government is supposed to meet the needs of the people as opposed to its own self-interest. This has not been the case in Illinois for the last three years. We can do better and we should. No one man is bigger than the constituents he serves. First, Lincoln recognized the need for change, and then he pursued it. Rather than shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up, he altered things in order to provide a richer form of equity to all those embroiled in the vestiges of slavery.

History is being made and it is up to every one of us to determine how we want to be remembered. As senator of District 17, I pledge to do everything within my power to ensure that my constituents are not left in the cold by the lack of budget. I will continue to fight for the needs of all those who rely on the state to fulfill its promise.

Senator Donne E. Trotter


17th District
Assistant Majority Leader

Years served: 1988–1993 (House); 1993–Present (Senate)

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Appropriations I; Executive; Appropriations II (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole.

Biography: Senior hospital administrator; born Jan. 30th, 1950, in Cairo; B.A., Chicago State University; M.J., Loyola University School of Law; married (wife, Rose), has four children.

Associated Representative(s): Marcus C. Evans Jr., Elgie R. Sims Jr.