(Chicago, IL) – March 18, 2012. The Illinois Association for Criminal Justice today bestowed awards to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Danny K. Davis and Illinois State Senators Mattie Hunter and Kwame Raoul today for legislative leadership in criminal justice policy.

The association recognized Senator Durbin for authoring the Fair Sentencing Act, which was signed into law in 2010 and reduces the sentencing disparity in the mandatory penalties for possession of crack versus powder cocaine.

IACJ awarded Congressman Davis for sponsoring the Second Chance Act, which provides federal seed grants for programs that assist individuals released from prison to successfully reenter society

Senators Hunter and Raoul also received the group’s recognition for state legislative drug crime reform efforts in Springfield. Hunter successfully sponsored the Illinois Disproportionate Justice Impact Study Commission law that addresses racial disparities in justice system’s response to drug crimes.

Raoul won approval for Illinois Crime Reduction Act, a measure that invests in community-based solutions to non-violent, drug-related crime.

“At the heart of our mission, our goals are to advance criminal justice reforms that guarantee equality for all under the law, create safer communities, and reduce the financial burden of expensive and unnecessary incarceration on taxpayers,” said IACJ President Diane Williams. “Congressman Davis and Senators Durbin, Hunter and Raoul embody those goals.”

 “Our mission is to ensure that services and public policies are in place that will reduce crime and restore individuals to stability and productivity in their communities,” said Pamela Rodriguez, president of TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), a founding organizational member of IACJ. “We’re here today because it’s vital to recognize legislative leaders when they take courageous stands in matters of fiscal responsibility and social justice. We care about these issues, we understand the impact of public policy in our communities, and we’re paying attention to what happens in Springfield and Washington.”

Sponsored by IACJ, the event was held at the Safer Foundation, which provides services education, employment, and support services for people with criminal records.

Founded in 2010, the mission of the Illinois Association for Criminal Justice (IACJ) is to ensure quality, comprehensive and coordinated services for people with criminal histories through the education of the public, advocacy, and community capacity building. For more information, please visit: www.illinoiscriminaljustice.org.

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SPRINGFIELD, IL – In 2011, national youth employment was at its lowest level in post- World War II history at 26 percent. A Senate Resolution sponsored by State Senator Mattie Hunter (D – Chicago) urges Congress to pass legislation that would invest in youth employment opportunities that benefit both young individuals and communities. The Senate Resolution recently passed out of the Senate State Government and Veteran’s Affairs Committee.

"Studies have shown that teens that have steady employment during their high school years are less likely to drop out of school and are more likely to have higher earnings in their twenties," Hunter said. "I know that unemployment is effecting every generation, but we must invest in our youth to allow them the opportunity to gain a stable work ethic and to gain experience to build a resume."

Senate Resolution 596 urges Congress to pass the $5 billion Pathways Back to Work legislation. The legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative George Miller and in the Senate by Senator Richard Blumenthal. The funding would be allocated for summer and year-round employment, education, and training. Pathways Back to Work is an expansion on the $1.2 billion President Obama and Congress allocated to summer youth employment in the 2009 stimulus that employed over 330,000 youth nationwide.

At the state level, youth unemployment in Illinois last year was 73 percent for teenagers 16 to 19 years old, with minority teens experiencing the heaviest unemployment rates. Senator Hunter recently introduced Senate Bill 3660 moving the Youth Empowerment Program to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The program would provide competitive grants for local community-based non-profits, educational facilities, and government agencies to hire up to 5,000 low-income youths each summer. Each youth, age 14-21, would be given a stipend of $7.50 an hour up to 200 hours over a 10-week period.

"Families are struggling, and teens want to get involved in helping their families financially," Hunter continued. "Not only will they be able to give assistance in their home finances if necessary, but they will also be off the streets and in an environment encouraging personal and community growth."

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You can find a statement from State Senator Mattie Hunter regarding the 2012 State of the State address at the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus website by clicking here



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To view the flyer, click here.


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