FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fiona Ortiz, Deputy of Communications
Cook County Public Defender's Office thrilled that SB424 and SB1886 are signed into law
We are thrilled that today, Gov. JB Pritzker signed SB424 and SB1886 into law, expanding rights and opportunities for people accused of gun possession and people on probation, respectively. Our office is proud of the leadership role we played in developing and passing these bills alongside our partner organizations and the sponsoring legislators.
SB424: Discretionary Probation for First-Time, Non-Violent Gun Possession, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Olickal and Sen. Ram Villivalam and jointly developed with the Cook County Justice Advisory Council.
- SB424 expands the successful First Time Weapons Offense Program, which ensures eligible individuals are connected to the support and services instead of being mandated to prison. This program helps people with limited past court involvement succeed in the community and avoid the lifelong barriers of a felony conviction.
- Under the expanded program, people age 21 and older will be eligible to participate if they meet certain criteria and are approved by the prosecutor and judge. Judges will also have increased ability to individualize program conditions.
- Thousands of people in Cook County every year face harsh prison sentences for possessing a gun without the proper combination of licenses. For example, a person with a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card can face a felony charge if they transport a gun a certain way without having a Concealed Carry License (CCL). These charges can apply even for people with no prior convictions and without any allegation that the gun was used or any violence was committed.
- SB424 achieves an important increase in fairness and justice for people caught up in the harmful and racially biased enforcement of gun laws.
- This safe alternative to incarceration strengthens our communities and was widely supported by advocates, law enforcement and violence prevention organizations.
- Read more about the development of the bill in a story in The Trace.
- Numerous members of our office's staff contributed to the development of SB424 including the policy team, Attorney Supervisors Crystal Brown and Colleen Gorman, and Assistant Public Defenders Liz Zink, Ashley Shambley, Iveliz Orellano, Brett Gallagher, Joseph Novosel, Michael Grady and Mel Delgado.
SB1886: Fair Probation Drug Testing, sponsored by Sen. Robert Peters and Rep. Lilian Jiménez. A joint effort with Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts.
- SB1886 promotes safety and equity with sensible adjustments to when testing for alcohol and cannabis can be imposed on people on probation.
- This law addresses the fact that blanket drug testing doesn’t help people on probation succeed by:
Creating a clear process to waive drug testing fees for people in poverty;
Requiring a connection between the crime committed and the cannabis and alcohol testing conditions imposed or a clinical assessment recommending testing as part of a treatment plan; and
Ensuring that people on probation are not denied access to medication prescribed by doctors, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
- Passage of SB1886 was made possible by the work of the Public Defender's Office's policy team, and of Assistant Public Defender Alissa Neuman and her client Anastasia Strauther, who both testified before the legislature about the impact of SCRAM alcohol testing on people completing probation.