SPRINGFIELD – Formerly incarcerated people will no longer be liable to reimburse the Department of Corrections for the cost of their incarceration under a new bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“‘Pay to stay’ is morally wrong,” Peters said. “These folks are already being punished for their crimes by being locked up. It’s unconscionable that we would place them into indentured servitude upon their release.”

House Bill 900 restricts the Department of Corrections from suing formerly incarcerated people for costs associated with their incarceration. This restriction already exists in certain jurisdictions in the state; the bill extends the restriction statewide.

Peters also noted the structural disadvantages that the “pay to stay” system reinforces.

“‘Pay to stay’ disproportionately affects people of color, who are already at a disadvantage from the moment of their birth because of the systemic biases that exist in our society,” Peters said. “‘Pay to stay’ is regressive and harmful and it has no place in our modern world.”

The bill passed the Senate and the House of Representatives, and will be sent to the governor’s desk for approval.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – The Department of Corrections would be required to provide civics education to incarcerated people who will soon be released under a new bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“Civics education is important in general, but especially for incarcerated folks who may have been locked up for a while and don’t remember the civic rights they’re afforded,” Peters said. “By providing this education, we can help returning citizens learn how to exercise their rights once they return to society.”

House Bill 2541 creates the Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act. The bill requires the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice to provide peer-led civics programs throughout Illinois correctional facilities to incarcerated people who will be released within 12 months, with a curriculum consisting of voting rights, governmental institutions, current affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and democratic processes.

The bill passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly with bipartisan support, and will be sent to the governor for approval.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) will require school districts to be more transparent about their teacher employment data.

“Class sizes are getting out of control, and that’s making it more difficult for teachers to provide students with the quality education they deserve,” Peters said. “This is especially prevalent in communities of color, where youth who are already at a systemic disadvantage due to the color of their skin aren’t being given the skills they need to thrive in our world at the same rate as their peers.”

House Bill 254 requires all school districts, including the Chicago Public Schools, to report their teacher employment data, including student to teacher ratio and number of teachers employed by the districts. Districts would have to submit their reports to the Illinois State Board of Education by Nov. 16, 2020.

“By requiring school districts to post this information, we can provide a bit more transparency in their hiring practices, which will only lead to better conditions in the classroom for both teachers and students alike,” Peters said. “This also allows parents to be stronger advocates for their community’s schools.”

The bill passed through both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly and will be sent to the governor for approval.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Minors in Illinois would have access to a drug effective at preventing HIV under a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“The medical community has made great strides in developing drugs that treat and prevent HIV,” Peters said. “If we can increase the number of kids who have the means to help prevent the disease, we can take a huge step toward eliminating it.”

House Bill 2665 would allow minors 12 years and older to receive health care services related to prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, rather than just treatment, without parental consent. This includes receiving a prescription for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug that, when used correctly, is over 90 percent effective at preventing transmission of HIV.

“There are a lot of young people who don’t feel safe going to their parents with issues like these, which puts them at risk of becoming HIV positive,” Peters said. “They should have the right to protect themselves by asking for a PrEP prescription without needing their parents to say it’s okay.”

According to the Department of Public Health, gay youth account for 85 percent of new diagnoses of HIV among youth aged 13 to 24.

“It’s time to face the reality: teenagers have sex,” Peters said. “We need to stop ignoring reality and start addressing an issue that is becoming an epidemic among gay youth in our state.”

The bill is an initiative of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and will align Illinois with federal guidelines regarding preventative health care.

“There are a lot of providers who are scared to even discuss these options with minors because of the backlash they may get from parents,” Peters said. “This bill removes that fear from providers, and I’m glad that my Senate colleagues were not afraid to support this bill that could save lives.”

The bill was approved by both chambers of the General Assembly, and will be sent to the governor for approval.

Category: Press Releases

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