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Justice, Equity, and Opportunity

We can build stronger, healthier communities by listening to those most affected by the criminal legal system.

The JEO Initiative seeks to fulfill the Administration’s vision to shift the state’s justice system from unsuccessful or punitive approaches and toward just and equitable—and more restorative, inclusive, and cutting-edge—practices and programs. This is a first-of-its-kind effort in Illinois.

The JEO Initiative serves as a model for the nation by convening stakeholders and state agencies in a collaborative environment to coordinate a holistic effort to transform the criminal justice system. This includes supporting research and pilot programs that will test groundbreaking efforts, promoting restorative justice and providing data analysis to assess program efficiency and guide new efforts. Below is a sampling of the innovative programs, pilots, and partnerships that are helping the JEO Initiative achieve this work.

Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program

The R3 Program invests 25% of tax revenue from adult-use cannabis sales to fund grants that support communities most impacted by economic disinvestment, violence, and the severe and multi-layered harm caused by the War on Drugs. In total, the R3 Program Board has granted nearly $150 million to more than 300 organizations statewide.

Illinois Healing-Centered Task Force

The Task Force was created on August 11, 2023 by Senate Bill 646 to expand trauma-informed and healing-focused efforts statewide. At its conclusion, the Task Force will propose a thorough blueprint to move Illinois towards becoming a healing-centered state. Launching January 2024.

Healing Beyond Harm Restorative Justice Pilot Program

Through the program, survivors of crimes can initiate a Restorative Conference with the person who caused them harm that is facilitated by a trained, impartial restorative justice practitioner. The second component of the pilot is an Apology Letter Bank program, making Illinois the 21st state in the nation where survivors of crimes can receive an apology letter from those who caused them harm and initiate the Restorative Conference. The Restorative Justice Pilot has launched in two IDOC facilities.

State ID Program

In May 2023, with the passage of House Bill 3345, barriers to secure a state ID have been removed.  House Bill 3345 amends the Illinois Identification Card Act and requires that the Secretary of State and the Departments of Correction and Juvenile Justice work in tandem to help apply for, and issue, a standard state ID to persons being released.

This legislation is a difference maker for those returning home from incarceration to begin a new chapter in their lives and was facilitated by the State ID Pilot program, a collaborative effort between the Office of the Lt. Governor, the office of the First Lady, the Secretary of State, and the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice.

McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows on Childhood Trauma with the Erikson Institute

In partnership with the Erikson Institute, one of the country’s foremost child development research institutions, the program was launched to research and understand how childhood trauma influences justice involvement and life outcomes. In January 2020, the first cohort of 23 cross-sector leaders formed and began their work to advance equity-focused programs and policies that use a trauma and racial equity-informed lens. Inaugural cohort members identified projects that range from trauma training for Chicago Police Department detectives to a peace academy aimed at breaking the cycle of street violence, eviction, and child welfare.

Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice 21st Century Illinois Transformation Model

This model, which will be implemented through 2024, is designed to reduce the harm of incarceration for youth committed to DJJ—particularly for Black youth who are disproportionately represented in the population. Through roundtable discussions, it was explained that they wanted closer, more family-centric facilities that have programs that connect with resources and organizations in the communities they will return to post-release. Seventy-five percent of the youth will have access to frequent family visits through the new model, which looks to bring love and compassion into rehabilitation practices and policymaking.

Justice Collective: Community Conversations with the LG

JEO hosts in-person convenings throughout the state between stakeholders and community to employ insightful discussion, expand awareness, and encourage the exchange of ideas for further transformation within Illinois. 

The first convening in the series took place on October 19, 2023, with Lt. Governor Stratton as both the moderator and a participant. Special guests included Chicago’s Deputy Mayor of Community Safety Garien Gatewood, Chief Executive Officer of BUILD, Inc., Adam Alonso, and Office of the Lieutenant Governor Deputy Chief of Staff and JEO’s Director Yaacov Delaney. The program centered around holistic approaches to addressing trauma and pain impacting historically disenfranchised communities.

Annual Reports