Rauner pushes prison bill meant to reduce recidivism


Source: Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Gov. Bruce Rauner listens to President Barack Obama speak in Chicago. Rauner is trying to get the Illinois House of Representatives to pass a bill that would provide state ID’s to convicts when they are released from prison.

Nora Shelly, City Editor

Gov. Bruce Rauner is pushing a bill that would provide released convicts with state identification cards in an effort to reduce rates of prison returnees.

The bill, which was passed unanimously through the Illinois Senate in April, aims to reduce recidivism, or relapse in criminal behavior or imprisonment. The bill has bipartisan support, Rauner said. Having a state ID will help former convicts obtain a bank account, an apartment lease or a cell phone, he said.

“In order to combat recidivism we need to remove some of the hurdles offenders face when they are released from a detention facility and begin to re-integrate into society,” Rauner said in a news release. “In this case, it’s the simple step of providing an offender with a state ID.”

The bill requires the State Department to issue an ID to any prisoner upon release if they present a birth certificate, a social security card and two proofs of address. For those without those documents, the Department will issue an ID that is valid for 90 days if the prisoner is able to present a verified document from the Department of Corrections or Juvenile Justice with their name, birth date, social security number and proof of address.

The bill, which arrived to the Illinois House in late April, was sponsored by Rep. John Cabello (R-Rockford) and Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago).

Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said at a news conference Thursday that the state had much more work to do to help former prisoners assimilate to life after they are released.

“Obtaining an ID, something that seems so fundamental, is something that has been an obstacle for a long, long time,” he said. “It’s not easy work.”

The legislation was drafted after recommendations from the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

Rauner established the commission in February of 2015 to create strategies that will reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent in the next decade.

The bill is not yet perfect, Flowers said, because it implies the State Department has employees in correction centers who are able to give the prisoners IDs when they are released. Additionally, the state must ensure the bill results in action, she said at a press conference on Thursday.

“We have to make sure when we pass this legislation that it is being implemented,” she said.

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Twitter: @noracshelly