September 11, 2015
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) program hosted Governor Bruce Rauner’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform at their headquarters in Pilsen on Tuesday. YSVP is the only community-based organization in the state to host a Commission meeting.
Comprised of more than two dozen Illinois criminal justice practitioners, lawmakers and policymakers, the Commission is charged with developing comprehensive, evidence-based strategies to meet the goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 25 percent before 2025.
YSVP is a comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to violence prevention that views past exposure to trauma as a main driver of future dangerous behaviors. Many of the youth YSVP serves have been exposed to trauma at home or in their neighborhoods, which studies show increase their likelihood of incarceration.
“I encourage the Commission to keep two critical issues in mind,” said Eddie Bocanegra, executive director of YSVP. “First, individuals with records must be seen as integral parts of the community with capacities to be civic leaders. Second, science in human development demonstrates that change is possible at any point in the lifespan. Individuals who have committed crimes in their youth and adulthood have the capacity to change, and we should collectively consider how we can support their development and transformation.”
During the Commission meeting, Elena Quintana, PhD, executive director of the Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, shared the results of her study on how exposure to trauma at a young age changes the chemical balance in an individual’s brain resulting in an increased likelihood of violent behavior. She shared preliminary findings from a research study based on 1,200 letters from currently incarcerated individuals regarding their sentencing and incarceration experience. Kathryn Bocanegra, executive director of Violence Prevention at Enlace Chicago and doctoral student at University of Chicago, presented different ways in which the community can be engaged across the criminal justice spectrum to safely reduce prison populations.
The Commission is conducting a review of the state’s criminal justice and sentencing structure, sentencing practices, community supervision and use of alternatives to incarceration. It will build upon bipartisan, data-driven and evidence-based reforms that have reduced the use of incarceration and its costs while protecting and improving public safety. Data collection and analysis will be used to identify public safety outcomes that reduce crime, reduce recidivism and protect the citizens of Illinois.
Chairman: Rodger Heaton - Public Safety Director & Homeland Security Advisor, Office of the Governor
Vice Chairman: Jason Barclay - General Counsel, Office of the Governor
Kathryn Bocanegra - Director of Violence Prevention, Enlace Chicago
Jerry Butler - Vice President of Community Corrections, Safer Foundation
Brendan Kelly - State’s Attorney, St. Clair County
Andrew Leipold - Edwin M. Adams Professor of Law, University of Illinois
John Maki - Executive Director, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Doug Marlowe - Chief of Science, Law & Policy, National Association of Drug Court Professionals
David Olson - Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Loyola University
Michael Pelletier - Illinois Appellate Defender
Elena Quintana - Executive Director, Institute for Public Safety - Adler University
Elizabeth Robb - (Ret.) Chief Judge, 11th Judicial Circuit
Pamela Rodriguez - President and CEO, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities
Kathryn Saltmarsh - Executive Director, Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council
Stephen Sawyer - Director of Specialty Courts, 2nd Judicial Circuit & (Ret.) Chief Judge
Michael Connelly - State Senator
Karen McConnaughay - State Senator
Michael Noland - State Senator
Kwame Raoul - State Senator
Scott Drury - State Representative
Elgie Sims Jr. - State Representative
Brian Stewart - State Representative
John Cabello - State Representative
(position vacant) - Director, Illinois Department of Corrections
Howard Peters- Former Director, Illinois Department of Corrections
Greg Sullivan - Executive Director, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association
Gladyse Taylor - Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Corrections
Michael Tardy - Director, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
Staff: Samantha Gaddy - Public Safety Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor
Staff: Zafreen Farishta - Public Safety Dunn Fellow, Office of the Governor
Pictured above: Dr. Elena Quintana of the Adler School of Professional Psychology presents how exposure to trauma changes an individual’s brain and results in an increased likelihood of violent behavior.