Criminal Justice Reform in Illinois


In 2012, Illinois reached its all-time high prison population at 49,348. In a prison population investigation, the state found that it had at least 10 inmates at a time that were in for ordinance violations, the lowest form of criminal conduct. Inmates who were unable to pay a $100 fine were unable to get out on bail and therefore sat for months in the facilities waiting for their case to be heard. These people wasted space in the prison facilities that should be saved for violent offenders.


In 2013, Illinois passed measures that prohibit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. Prohibiting shackling respects the dignity of incarcerated women by protecting incarcerated mothers and their unborn babies.

Looking Ahead

Illinois is looking to focus its next reforms on ending cash bail, giving judges more control over the sentencing of non-violent offenders, and reducing mandatory minimums.By allowing judges discretion in sentencing, judges would be able to create a punishment that better fits the crime. This will in turn create more room in prisons for violent offenders by cutting down on the number of non-violent offenders. Multiple states have adopted similar reforms and have seen a great reduction in prison population. The greatest example of this is Texas.

Identification of legislation should not be considered an endorsement of support of, or opposition to, such bills.