Bradley pot shot at Severin flies wide of the mark
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner continues to work on criminal justice reform while Democratic lawmakers take pot shots.
This time, the shot went wide when incumbent John Bradley (D-Marion) attacked his Republican challenger, Dave Severin (R-Benton).
The bipartisan effort led by Gov. Rauner sought to reduce the state's prison population by 25 percent within 10 years. He signed a number of bills into law, including a marijuana decriminalization bill. While the House Democrats kept challenged incumbents off the bills, to avoid appearing soft on crime, Bradley instead attacked his opponent via a television ad that said, "In Southern Illinois, we value the safety of our neighbors, friends and families. So why would anyone want to weaken penalties for dangerous criminals? Dave Severin's biggest supporter wants to let 25 percent of the state's prisoners loose into our communities."
The shot at Severin, and thus at Gov. Rauner, may drum up high emotions amid the constituents, but in reality missed the target. Rauner's goal is to reduce prison populations by reducing the number of first-time, low-level offenders that previously ended up in a prison cell. Unlike the notorious failure of the 2009 Meritorious Good Time Push program by then-governor Pat Quinn, which rewarded prisoners with time off for good behavior before they actually got to prison, Gov. Rauner's reforms are based on recommendations by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.
To help keep first-time offenders out of jail, a pre-sentencing evaluation is now required, which determines if prison is an appropriate sentence. Other bills focus on reducing probation times, improving access to substance abuse programs, loosening park district hiring restrictions and making it easier to expunge criminal records.
In addition, Gov. Rauner has focused on reforms regarding major crimes. He recently signed a bill that puts gun traffickers in prison for up to 20 years, with an added 10 years for repeat offenders. The criminal justice bills signed into law all had bipartisan support from lawmakers.
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