FILE - J.B. Pritzker, Illinois, Springfield, Virus Outbreak Illinois

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker answers questions from the media during his daily press briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic from his office at the Illinois State Capitol, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Springfield, Ill. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker released a set of principles Tuesday for changing Illinois’ criminal justice system.

The governor has released 7 guiding principles, including ending cash bail, reducing prison sentences, and increasing police accountability and training. The governor’s office said the principles build on the agenda outlines by Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton in January as an event announcing the administration’s Justice, Equity and Opportunity initiative.

“We’re building toward an Illinois that works for everyone, and criminal justice reform is a key element of that holistic approach,” said Pritzker.

Khadine Bennett, director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs with the ACLU applauded the proposals.

“It is really important that policing reform and criminal justice reform happen together because if you think about the prison pipeline system starts when people interact with law enforcement,” he said.

Jon Sandage, the McLean County Sheriff, said the governor isn’t thinking about the entire state.

“I think they need to realize that downstate Illinois is not Cook County, and we don’t have the same problems that Cook County does,” Sandage said.

Jim Kaitschuk, executive director of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, said law enforcement groups were left out of the discussion.

“Quite honestly it is pretty disturbing to see the seven principles for an equitable criminal justice system being outlined with no conversation with those folks that are directly involved in the criminal justice process,” Kaitschuk said.

Another principle is relaxing sentencing laws on drug and theft offenses, and decrease admissions into prison. Kaitschuk said that is the wrong approach.

“I don’t disagree that we have a public health crisis, but let’s put some money towards treatment and prevention before we just go ahead and start lifting the bar as it relates to the offense,” Kaitschuk said.

Kaitschuk said there needs to be a full conversation with all parties involved regarding reform.

“Let’s figure out how to work the problem as opposed to just issuing a press release saying ‘these are our seven pillars of what we are going to do’,” he said. “I guess that is how we govern today.”

Staff Reporter

Kevin Bessler reports on statewide issues in Illinois for the Center Square. He has over 30 years of experience in radio news reporting throughout the Midwest.