SPRINGFIELD – Adults 21 years of age or older will be able to possess and consume recreational cannabis under a bill passed by the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who voted in support of the bill, issued the following statement:

“This bill is long overdue. It is a historic vote that addresses many of the policy failures of the past, and I’m happy to have helped pass it through the Senate. I’m also glad the bill includes provisions to ensure equal opportunities for people of color in terms of licensing within the cannabis market.

“I want to commend the sponsors, Senator Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for the years of hard work finally resulting in the passage of this legislation. I want to thank Senator Toi Hutchinson, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Dep. Gov. Christian Mitchell, and the many organizers who have spent years if not decades fighting to bring about this change.

“Communities of color have always been disproportionately affected by the so called ‘war on drugs’. I’m glad this bill included the means to expunge records, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. This is a good victory in a much larger battle to reduce the population of incarcerated black and brown folks in this state. We will continue to organize in the future around this and other equitable fights.

Category: Press Releases

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
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