CHICAGO – State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, will join a “Returning Citizens Independence Day” press conference and rally on Sunday, July 3 at 10 a.m. outside of the Cook County Jail to join advocates, previously incarcerated and reentry organizations to talk about the need to take action to reduce recidivism.                                                                                                       

“Chicago’s most violent communities are less safe because our prison system too often does not rehabilitate individuals and put them on a better path,” Ford said. “It’s important that we’re very tough on serious offenders, but most of those facing jail time are only there temporarily before they return home to our community. When these individuals engage with our correctional system, we have to appropriately treat them and ensure that they are able to pursue a more positive way forward. It’s better for all of us when this happens.”

Ford previously passed a House Resolution in 2017 that marked July 3 as Illinois Citizens Re-entry Day to bring awareness to the issue. According to a 2018 report from the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, the recidivism rate within one year of release is 17%, and within three years of release the rate climbs to 43%. The results saddle the state with billions in costs, with the 2018 report projecting a $13 billion hit over five years if the rate did not decrease.

Factors that contribute to recidivism include an individual’s social environment, their community, and circumstances before and during their incarceration. Issues with adjusting back to normal life, such as connecting with family or finding a job, can have a critical impact on whether or not someone reoffends.

“July 3 is a day to raise awareness about the need to improve our correctional institutions and support systems to reduce recidivism and make our streets safer,” Ford said. “If we want to address violence, we have to do so in a comprehensive manner that takes a hard look as to how we handle offenders. When we lock someone up, the story does not end there.”

Rep. La Shawn FordRep. La Shawn Ford

8th District

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