Updated: Jul 27, 2019
At the end of the legislative session, the Illinois State House and Senate passed two dangerous bills, which would undermine the safety and liberation of Black community members across the state.
This legislation represents the latest attempt by Mayor Emanuel to amass political leverage by promoting anti-Black “law-and-order” legislation. Released by the mayor’s office as so-called “public safety” measures, these bills would fail in their proported attempt to promote the security and well-being of local residents. Rather, HB 1804 and SB 2562 would further escalate the racially targeted mass incarceration of Illinois children and enhance the ability of law enforcement to target and suppress racial justice advocates.
With your help, we can stop these bills.
HB 1804 would offer Iocal law enforcement overly expansive powers to apprehend and prosecute Illinois residents for non-criminal activities. This bill designates the mere act of possessing or being a passenger in a stolen vehicle as a Class 2 felony, punishable for up to 7 years in prison, even if the accused was unaware that the vehicle had been unlawfully seized. In such cases, HB 1804 would grant juvenile court judges broad authority to hold presumptively innocent child defendants in pretrial detention as they await their court date. The adverse implications of HB 1804 would disproportionately affect Black children, who are targeted by Illinois’ juvenile justice system at a rate of six times that of white youths.
SB 2562 would allow police officers to use drones equipped with facial recognition technology to spy on political activists at large scale public demonstrations. Increased surveillance capabilities of law enforcement would violate residents’ civil liberties and intimidate marginalized activists from exercising their first amendment rights. SB 2562 would perpetuate the Chicago Police Department's long history of abusing surveillance authority as a means to suppress Black activists.
We are calling upon you to join WCRJ in resisting these toxic bills.
Contact Governor Rauner (217-782-0244) ASAP and demand that he veto HB 1804 and SB 2562.
This afternoon, Illinois lawmakers took important steps towards improving economic opportunity for local families impacted by poverty. The state legislature passed SB 3115 which, if signed by the governor, would substantially increase family cash assistance benefits, commonly known as TANF.
This afternoon, Illinois lawmakers took important steps towards improving economic opportunity for local families impacted by poverty. The state legislature passed SB 3115 which, if signed by the governor, would substantially increase family cash assistance benefits, commonly known as TANF. In order for this bill to become law, Illinois families need your help.
Low income residents across Illinois are increasingly reliant upon public supportive services such as TANF in order to make ends meet. In recent decades, rising housing costs, stagnated wages and insufficient workplace benefits have upended the economic stability of hundreds of thousands of state residents. Illinois ranks among the top ten states with the highest levels of income disparity. One-third of all Illinoisans and nearly one in five children in the state live below the poverty line. Centuries of institutionalized racism, wealth extraction and economic exclusion have led to disproportionately high rates of inequality among Black families statewide. Nearly 40% of all Black children in Illinois experience poverty.
SB 3115 would take steps to restore funding levels to Illinois’ family cash assistance program, which has seen drastic cuts in recent years. Over the past two decades, TANF benefit amounts in Illinois have decreased by over 25%. By incrementally increasing TANF grant amounts over the next three years, SB 3115 would better address the financial needs of low income families statewide.
Public family assistance is key to securing economic opportunity for Illinois families impacted by poverty. Research shows that children who received TANF assistance benefit from improved educational, economic and health outcomes in adulthood.
In order to secure equity and justice for Illinois families living in poverty, write or call (217-782-0244) Governor Rauner to demand his signature on SB 3115.
Updated: Jul 27, 2019
Last week, the Illinois House of Representatives passed HB 4469, a critical bill that would take steps to promote more equitable voting rights for the hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised Black residents who are targeted by the criminal justice system at disproportionately high rates.
Last week, the Illinois House of Representatives passed HB 4469, a critical bill that would take steps to promote more equitable voting rights for the hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised Black residents who are targeted by the criminal justice system at disproportionately high rates. The proposed legislation, which was introduced by State Representative Juliana Stratton, would mandate that all Illinois county jails establish a vote-by-mail program and designate Cook County Jail as an official polling location. The bill would also require the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to provide inmates with a voter registration application upon release.
Current electoral policy in Illinois allows detained individuals awaiting trial to participate in elections. However, due to a lack of oversight, jails routinely restrict inmates’ access to the ballot. Black Illinoisans, who represent 74% of the 20,000 eligible voters held in pretrial detention statewide, are particularly impacted by inmate voter suppression.
State election law also extends voting eligibility to the four million formerly incarcerated individuals residing in Illinois. However, research indicates that the overwhelming majority of community members with felony records are unaware of their right to vote. Hundreds of thousands of Black Illinoisans are thereby, in effect, systematically disenfranchised.
The racist origins of Illinois’ jail and prison based voter suppression practices date back to the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, which ostensibly extended suffrage to Black male citizens. In the years that followed, white Illinoisans waged a two-pronged campaign aimed at repressing Black suffrage. The state simultaneously adopted jail and prison disenfranchisement practices, while escalating incarceration rates of Black men in order to systematically deny ballot access to newly eligible voters.
Illinois’ current electoral policy promotes the same anti-Black objectives, effectively barring a large voting block of disproportionately Black Illinoisans from electing officials that represent community interests, such as police accountability, criminal justice reform, labor rights, and equitable economic investment.
Please join WCRJ as we fight to protect the electoral rights of hundreds of thousands of voters impacted by Illinois' racist criminal justice system. Call your State Senator to urge a "yes" vote on HB 4469. And call (217-782-0244) or write Governor Rauner to demand he endorse HB 4469 and sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.
Thank you for your commitment and support!