A Safe Haven Hosts IL Governor Bruce Rauner, Secretary of State Jesse White & Top Elected Officials for Historic Bill Signing Ceremony To Provide State ID’s For Prison Re-entry Populations
Chicago, IL (December, 15 2016)—IL Governor Bruce Rauner was joined by Secretary of State Jesse White, Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Representative La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago), Representative Mary Flowers (D-Chicago), Representative Sonya Harper (D-Chicago), Senator Jacqueline Y Collins (D-Chicago), Neli Vazquez Rowland, Co-Founder and President of A Safe Haven at A Safe Haven Headquarters for the signing of State Bill 3368, which ensures a valid state identification card for anyone released from prison. According to a news release from Governor Rauner’s office, Bill 3368 was recommended by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, whose goal is to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent by 2025.
President of A Safe Haven, Neli Vazquez Rowland, introduced Secretary of State Jesse White, who indicated that his office has been working on this reform for years. Two of ASHF’s current residents who have been through the criminal justice system multiple times also spoke. Bernita, who was in prison four times before coming to A Safe Haven, stressed the importance of having an ID for those who are homeless, as many food pantries will not serve those without one. She also experienced interrogation and eventual arrest for failing to possess an ID. Arias, who recently came to ASHF on probation, spoke of his deep desire and inability to find a job upon being released from prison. Their passionate testimonies helped all in attendance understand the profound impact Bill 3368 will have on the lives of countless Illinois residents.
“In order to combat recidivism, we need to remove some of the hurdles offenders face when they are released from a detention facility and begin to re-integrate into society,” said Governor Rauner. “In this case, it’s the simple step of providing an offender with a state ID. We thank the bill sponsors for their work on this bipartisan legislation and Secretary of State White for his commitment to implement the new law. This will help us end the cycle of recidivism and give former offenders more tools necessary to be successful and thrive, and get Illinois one step closer to safely reducing Illinois’s prison population by 25 percent before 2025.”
A Safe Haven is a top provider of housing and services for re-entry for nonviolent ex-offenders located in the heart of North Lawndale, one of Chicago’s most impoverished communities where a disproportionate number of ex-offenders reside. ASHF headquarters is only blocks away from Cook County jail, one of the America’s largest and most over populated prisons.
Bill 3368 will ensure that any citizen being released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has a valid state identification card upon release. The Bill is the result of decades of tireless grassroots advocacy by A Safe Haven leadership and a network of elected and community based leaders. Special thanks to Governor Rauner, all the attending elected officials, the entire Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, and the thousands of advocates and private citizens of the State of Illinois who have fought tirelessly over many years in support of the Bill.
“About one third of the people we served last year didn’t have a State ID, costing us tremendous time and resources, helping them get an ID, which could be much better spent helping them upon arrival. Unfortunately, this simple barrier deprives them of everything they need to get back on their feet and mainstreamed and is one of the leading causes that ex-offenders are recycled through the criminal justice system over and over again. Thanks to the Governor and everyone else that Bill 3368 opens doors that were previously closed—ex-offenders will now have the proper identification to apply for transitional housing, behavioral health, job training, jobs, apartments, and banking. This new legislation will benefit citizens not only in Chicago, but across the state of Illinois. The current recidivism rate is over 50%, a situation we are working to rectify every day. This Bill ensures the fundamental piece that is needed so that every citizen has the opportunity to create a better life for themselves and their families, upon paying their debt to society.”—Neli Vazquez Rowland, President of A Safe Haven Foundation.