SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Sonya Harper led a major overhaul of Illinois’ sentencing laws through the Illinois House, expanding opportunities for alternative sentences and easing reliance on unfair mandatory minimum sentences.

“It’s time for a ‘smart on crime’ approach that reserves our prisons for offenders who pose a threat to public safety,” said Harper. “Those better served by rehabilitation and restorative justice should have that opportunity.”

Harper sponsored House Bill 1587, which would create new sentencing standards to lessen the state’s reliance on mandatory minimum sentences. The bill allows judges to sentence individuals to probation, conditional discharge or other non-imprisonment forms of justice less than a mandatory minimum if an individual does not pose a risk to public safety. Courts can only apply an alternative sentence if an offense involves drug possession, retail theft or driving on a revoked license. Courts are barred from applying this reform to sex offenses or violent crimes and judges must state on the record the reasoning for deviating from a mandatory minimum. Data from the Brennan Center for Justice shows that states with similar reforms, such as Connecticut, Ohio, and South Carolina, have seen crime rates drop over 20 percent.

“We’ve seen how a so-called ‘tough on crime’ approach to criminal justice takes a staggering toll on communities of color without making anyone safer,” Harper added. “Smart sentencing reform will make our communities safer and our responses to crime more equitable and just.”

Rep Sonya HarperRep Sonya Harper

6th District

Visit Rep Harper’s website

Springfield Office:
276-S Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL   62706
(217) 782-5971
(217) 558-6370 FAX

District Office:
4926 South Ashland
Chicago, IL  60609
(773) 925-6580
(773) 925-6584 FAX