A Safe Haven Congratulates Federal Elected Officials

A Safe Haven Congratulates Federal Elected Officials For

PASSING  The Nation’s Historic Criminal Justice Reform Bill “First Step Act”

Chicago, IL (December 20, 2018) — The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the Criminal Justice Reform Bill called the “First Step Act” with bipartisan support on Tuesday, a pivotal piece of criminal justice legislation that will allow low-level and nonviolent drug offenders to get treatment and workforce development services that help address the root causes of the high rate of recidivism, joblessness, homelessness and opioid dependence, rather than receive prison time.


A Safe Haven thanks and congratulates Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and Illinois Congressmen Robin Kelly, Dan Lipinski, Luis Gutiérrez, Peter Roskam, Brad Schneider, Bill Foster, Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, and Darin LaHood, President Trump and Advisor Jared Kushner along with all elected officials from Illinois and across the Country who have championed this legislation to make it a reality and soon to be law of the land. This piece of legislation is one of the most relevant and historic bills ever passed. It is a true game-changer in how we help and treat people struggling with substance abuse and behavioral health disorders. It will put people back on a path toward sustainable recovery, employment, and housing.


A Safe Haven has been on the front lines of these issues for 25 years, working with the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Cook County jail to help returning veterans, pretrial populations, and returning citizens with their social and economic needs. We have been a tireless advocate and provider serving on the front lines on behalf of the criminal justice involved population to help tens of thousands of people engaged in the criminal justice system connect with educational and vocational services to transition back as productive members of society.


On the eve of our 25th anniversary we are grateful that these issues are finally being recognized as urgent human and economic priorities. At A Safe Haven, we understand there is pent-up demand for these services. We are currently turning away a thousand people a month. We are grateful this bill recognizes the need is great and that investing in behavioral health and workforce development can transform people’s lives and improve safety in our communities.


The bill shifts from the War on Drugs tough-on-crime policies and approach to a smart-on-crime approach that allows people currently being housed in federal prisons who would benefit from residential reentry centers to use these centers at a fraction of the price of staying in prison. These centers would offer counseling, treatment, educational services, job training, and other services the individual may need. The bill will reduce the prison population, make communities safer, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayers money.


“There is a shortage of residential treatment centers in Illinois and across the country. As we move forward, we urge leaders in government to approve budgets and invest in scalable organizations with a history of success in treating these populations and enabling people to get back on track. As an organization that has helped tens of thousands of ex-offenders successfully reenter society with jobs and life skills, we are eager to see the positive outcomes from this bill as they reach the people we serve on the ground.” Neli Vazquez Rowland, President A Safe Haven