Restore Justice Foundation

Each of us can be greater than the worst thing we’ve ever done. No matter how serious the offense, everyone deserves support for rehabilitation and a second chance at life. 

Illinois has passed laws over the past three decades that extended sentencing ranges, instituted mandatory sentencing enhancements, and eliminated “time off for good behavior.” These laws have created a net that catches young people and never lets them go; particularly those convicted of the most serious crimes. 

Restore Justice trains and supports advocates, conducts research, nurtures partnerships, and develops policy solutions that will roll back the “tough on crime” policies of the past, replacing them with compassionate, smart, and safe policies for the future.

Our Case

By enacting evidence-based policies and providing support, even individuals convicted of violent offenses can change and rejoin the community.

Brain Science

Human brains are not fully developed until age 25 making young people:

  • More prone to risky behavior
  • Lacking in impulse control
  • Less able to foresee consequences

Current sentencing laws ignore recent research, which shows that adolescent brains are not fully formed.

Legal Scholarship

The Model Penal Code (MPC) recommends judicial review of long sentences as the best way to determine who is ready for release. The American Law Institute’s most recent MPC sentencing provisions advise multiple judicial reviews for all sentences of 40 years or more as best practice.

Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that children are different and must be treated differently under the law.  Recent rulings by the Illinois Supreme Court also support creating meaningful opportunities for release for those given extreme sentences at a young age.

Public Opinion

According to a recent national survey, most victims of violent crime said that the criminal justice system relies too heavily on incarceration. 6 in 10 victims prefer shorter prison sentences and more spending on prevention and rehabilitation to prison sentences that keep people incarcerated for as long as possible.

Our Impact

Restore Justice educates policy-makers and engages advocates in promoting positive solutions.

In-Person Visiting Rights Bill Signed Into Law

2017 Impact

On Friday, August 18, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB 2989—which had previously been unanimously approved in both the House and the Senate—into law. Now Public Act 100-0142, the law ensures that individuals incarcerated in Illinois are not deprived in-person visits due to the availability of video visits. The law also mandates that the Illinois Department of Corrections publish the number of in-person visits each incarcerated person is entitled to per week and month, better explain identification requirements for visitors, and post daily any restrictions or denials of visitation for that day and the succeeding 5 calendar days. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Justin Slaughter (D – Chicago), will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

New Prison Phone Rate Law Takes Effect January 1, 2018

2016 Impact

Restore Justice educated policy-makers on high phone rates in Illinois prisons, assisting the efforts of Representative Carol Ammons (D – Champaign) in her effort to pass HB 6200 during the 2016 legislative session. Now Public Act 099-0878, the law caps phone charges at 7 cents per minute, a reduction of almost 50 percent. Restore Justice participated in this effort to ease the financial burden of communications among families with loved ones prison.

Illinois Governor Signs Youth Sentencing Reform Legislation

2015 Impact

On July 20th, 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner signed HB2471 into law. Now Public Act 99-0069, the law:

  • Eliminates mandatory life-without-parole sentences for youth under 18 at the time of the offense
  • Requires judges to consider specific age-related factors in mitigation at the time of sentences
  • Gives courts greater discretion in determining sentences for those under the age of 18

Restore Justice Illinois was a strong proponent of this measure. The new law took effect on January 1, 2016.

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