Behavioral Health Advocates Hail Illinois’ Selection for National Criminal Justice Reform Project

(Springfield, IL) –  Illinois’ selection as one of just three states out of 20 applicants for participation in the National Criminal Justice Reform Project (NCJRP) has drawn applause from a top Illinois behavioral advocate group.

Chosen by the National Criminal Justice Association Center for Justice Planning and the National Governors Association, the project offers technical assistance to states in the planning and implementation of data-driven, evidence-based practices in the areas of pretrial reform, re-entry and offender recidivism, mental health and substance abuse, reducing incarceration, and information sharing.

“Illinois has been a leader on criminal justice reform in the last several years, and the state’s participation in the National Criminal Justice Reform Project advances that effort,” said Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Since behavioral health care is a linchpin of any effort to fix our criminal justice system, we look forward, as key stakeholders, to be involved in the national reform effort.”

Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Executive Director John Maki, who announced Illinois’ selection on December 21, warmly welcomed the state’s participation.

“We are honored to be a part of the National Criminal Justice Reform Project,” said Maki. “This partnership will be invaluable as Illinois works to fully integrate evidence-based practices that ensure a fair and cost-effective criminal justice system and improve public safety.”

Through the project and with the assistance of an advisory board of national experts, the Governor Bruce Rauner’s office and ICJIA will lead teams of policymakers and key stakeholders on a strategic planning process for advancing reforms within the state’s executive branch.

“Protecting the public’s safety is of paramount importance to Governor Rauner,” said Rodger Heaton, Public Safety Director. “The state’s selection for this grant reflects the many efforts underway to improve our public safety system in sustainable, measurable ways.”

Lindsey said that he “looks forward” for CBHA’s opportunity to share “evidence-based best practices” CJIA to help push executive branch reforms.

“Our community behavioral health providers are working on ground every day implementing evidence-based best practices, and we look forward to working with CJIA and Director Maki wherever we may be helpful,” Lindsey said.

In 2015, the Rauner created the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, an initiative to reduce Illinois’ incarcerated population by 25 percent by 2025.

Lindsey also noted that in August 2015, before the November 2015 release of the infamous Laquan McDonald shooting video, Rauner signed the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act, Senate Bill 1304, sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), a measure that contains a requirement for police body cameras, training and attention for dealing with individuals suffering from mental health illness.

“The Illinois debate occurred before the MacDonald video became public,” Lindsey said. “I think Senator Raoul’s legislation puts Illinois ahead of a curve on the topic.”

Rauner Signs Bill Authorizing 90-Day Illinois Identification Card for Ex-Offenders

(Chicago) – Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday signed legislation, Senate Bill 3368, to ensure that any person being released from the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has a valid state identification card upon release.

“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 Rauner, who was joined by Secretary of State Jesse White, State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago), and other elected officials at A Safe Haven in Chicago.

“In this case, it’s the simple step of providing an offender with a state ID,” Rauner said. “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.”

The measure, which was approved by the General Assembly December, requires the Secretary of State to issue a standard Illinois ID card, at the time of their release, to any person being released from the DOC or DJJ who present their birth certificate, social security card, or other documents authorized by the Secretary, and two proofs of address. For individuals without these documents, the Secretary of State will issue a limited-term, 90-day ID to released individuals who present a verified document from DOC/DJJ with their name, birth date, social security number, and proof of address. They then have 90 days to present this ID at the Secretary of State to receive a standard issue ID.

“This new law helps to reduce some of the barriers men and women face as they try to reenter society,” said White. “This was a cooperative effort to streamline the ID process for those being released while maintaining its security.”

“The simple act of providing low-level offenders with identification will help them to secure employment, housing, and establish financial stability,” said McConnaughay, a member of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

“The ID issue for those leaving prisons has been a problem in Illinois for years, and today, thanks to Gov. Rauner’s leadership, we will meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable people in Illinois,” said Ford.

The legislation was one of the recommendations made by the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform in their efforts to reduce the state’s current prison population by 25 percent by 2025.
Additional information on the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

Ex-Small Biz Lobbyist Tapped for Mental Health Advocate Post, Funding Push

(Springfield, IL) – A veteran small business lobbyist has been hired to help handle state mental health government affairs for a top Illinois behavioral health advocacy group and to push to reverse state funding cuts opposed by Illinois voters.

Blanca Campos, chief operating officer for advocacy at the Illinois Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC) from 2010 through 2016, has been recruited by the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois to help lead the group’s legislative advocacy in Springfield.

Campos, who earned in Masters of Public Administration from DePaul University in Chicago, will serve as CBHA’s behavioral health care advocate associate, according to the group’s chief.

“With seven years of legislative advocacy experience at the Small Business Advocacy Council, Blanca will significantly boost our advocacy fire power in the General Assembly,” said CBHA CEO Marvin Lindsey. “Blanca will be able to forcefully deliver to lawmakers not only our behavioral health message, but also our small business message that our members our crucial economics cogs in communities.”

During her work at the business group, Campos led the SBAC’s advocacy efforts to bring intrastate equity crowdfunding to Illinois, and helped pass legislation setting a 10% state procurement goal for small businesses. Prior to working for the SBAC, she worked in state legislative and congressional campaigns.

One of the messages that Campos will be delivering to lawmakers is the voting public’s support for greater investment in mental health care and drug treatment services, says Lindsey.

A July 26 automated poll of 826 likely Illinois voters conducted by Illinois Public Opinion Strategies found that 70.1% back “investing more money in mental health care” while just 11.5% support “investing less money” or a net +59 points. 18.4% were undecided.

The poll also found that 55.4% of likely voters support investing more money to “provide treatment to individuals struggling with drug addiction, such as addiction to heroin” and 27.2% support “investing less money.” 17.4% were undecided.

While mental health and drug treatment funding are strongly backed by voters, state funding for both programs has retreated in the last two years.

In Fiscal Year 2016, state addiction treatment contracts issued to community providers, with money coming from the state’s general revenue fund for drug treatment, were cut 25% from FY 2015 levels. Mental health care contracts saw a 21.8% cut. In 2017, addiction treatment contracts had 21.4% reduction and mental health got a 26.7% cut.

“Blanca will help communicate to lawmakers that their constituents want greater financial investment in behavioral healthcare – not less – and that an investment mandate exists for this human services priority,” said Lindsey. “I think that Blanca will be effective in delivering that message.”

Beyond her business background, Campos has also served on the Women’s Health Awareness Council, a collaborative program coordinated by the Women’s Health Initiative at Swedish Covenant Hospital in partnership with more than 30 elected officials, community leaders, major philanthropies and respected health care providers.