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Illinois Criminal Law Reform Aims to Reduce Recidivism Rates

Joliet LawyerEarlier this year, Governor Bruce Rauner announced a lofty goal: he wants to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent by the year 2025. Several initiatives and criminal law reform laws have been put into place since that announcement, and all are aimed at achieving that goal. Is it really working, though, or do they at least have the potential of doing so? The following explores the recent reforms, and their potential efficacy. It also provides some important information for anyone currently facing criminal charges in the state of Illinois.

Diversion Programs and Nonviolent Crimes

Over the last several decades, the “War on Drugs” created a major surge in the number of people arrested for nonviolent crimes, and it continues to result in countless arrests. Worse yet is that many wind up being arrested, charged, and convicted of subsequent crimes. This is often because the true nature of their issue is never really addressed (i.e. addiction, etc.).

To reduce this risk of recidivism (re-offending), the state has implemented several diversion programs. One example is the use of a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program for someone being charged with possession of a drug or driving under the influence. Thought not appropriate for everyone or every situation, these programs can improve outcomes for some. An attorney can help you determine if this option is right for you.

Record Sealing Reform Can Improve Employment Options

One of the biggest struggles that convicted offenders face is the reentry back into society. Many of struggle to find gainful employment and suitable housing. This can greatly increase their risk of recidivism. In fact, one study showed that almost half of all of Illinois’ ex-offenders return to prison within three years of their release. Yet only 18 percent of offenders able to find gainful employment end up incarcerated again during that same time frame.

Several initiatives to help improve employability have been implemented, including the ID bill , which gives offenders a way to obtain a state-issued ID, and the record sealing reform bill. A criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if any of these options might be available to you.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you or someone you love is facing a criminal charge, contact a skilled Will County criminal defense attorney for assistance. We will protect your rights every step of the way. Dedicated and experienced, we will pursue the most favorable outcome possible. We offer free, personalized consultations to address your legal needs and concerns. Call 815-740-4025 and schedule yours today.

Subsequent Drug Charges Are a Serious Matter in Illinois

Joliet Repeat Drug ChargesA Davenport man with two former drug convictions on his record is now facing a new criminal drug charge . Because he has had two convictions in the past, and because he was on probation at the time of his most recent arrest, he is likely to face even higher penalties if convicted. Unfortunately, it is a situation that anyone with a criminal record could find themselves in, even if they have done little or nothing to deserve further prosecution.

A Criminal Record Can Hurt You in Future Arrests

Research shows that more than 2,000 people have been wrongfully arrested and convicted over the last 23 years. But this estimate, which is likely on the conservative side, only includes those who were exonerated of their crimes. There are still others sitting in prison for a crime they never committed. Unless and until their cases are successfully appealed, their information may not ever make it to a national database.

Unfortunately, it is often those with a criminal record that find themselves facing wrongful charges. Some are victims of criminal profiling, which pushes law enforcement to look more closely at known criminals. Others are arrested for relatively minor reasons and then officers work to find any evidence they can to use charge the detainee with an additional crime. Still others are victimized by society upon their release. Neighbors, employers, or even family members may report them for a crime simply because they have a criminal past.

This very same stigma can do more than just get you arrested on charges of a crime you did not commit; it can also get you convicted. Judges examine your criminal record when making a determination in your case. Juries may hear of your sordid past. Even if you have turned things around for yourself, worked to become a contributing member of society, or were even wrongfully convicted before, your past may haunt you and can impact your future.

Aggressive Legal Defense for Your Criminal Charges

Regardless of whether you are facing your first criminal charge or your fifth, it is critical that you treat the matter seriously and seek immediate legal assistance. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba will fight to protect your rights every step of the way. Our team is prepared to provide you with personalized, assertive representation against drug charges, as well as other criminal charges. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. Call us at 815-470-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

Asset Forfeiture Has Become a Police For-Profit Business in Illinois

Joliet Asset ForfeitureIn the state of Illinois, there is a little-known law that can leave those suspected of, arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime in a serious financial bind. Even worse is that law enforcement is often profiting from their misfortunes. The statute regarding civil forfeiture may allow the police to seize your assets and personal belongings, even if you are never convicted of a crime.

Civil Forfeiture – What Is It, and How Might It Affect You?

State and federal laws permit law enforcement to seize any land, cash, vehicle, or property that could be tied to a crime or illegal activity. The police and other law enforcement agencies are not required to verify that the property belongs to the suspected individual, nor do the laws require that the suspected person be charged (let alone convicted) of a crime to seize or withhold that property from its rightful owner.

In fact, a grandmother from Rock Island County had her Jeep Compass seized when her grandson was arrested for allegedly driving on a revoked license. The grandmother was not an accessory, and she argued that she did not know that her grandson had been driving on a revoked license. Yet law enforcement refused to return her vehicle, stating it had been used in the commission of a crime. She is not alone.

Law Enforcement Seizes More Than $319 Million in a Decade

A joint report issued by the Illinois Policy Institute and American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois found that law enforcement throughout the state of Illinois had seized and sold more than $319 million in property from its citizens over the last ten years. On average, law enforcement agencies auction off around $30 million in forfeited property per year. Even worse is that retrieving seized property is extremely difficult for citizens. Further, they may be denied a refund of any other losses they may have experienced throughout the process.

For these reasons and many others, advocacy groups are pushing to change the laws. They want a valid conviction before property can be forfeited. They also want there to be more transparency when it comes to listing what kind of property was seized, when, and where. This could potentially reduce the “lost assets” that seem to be plaguing the current system.

Fighting Criminal Charges and Property Seizure

If you or someone you love has been subjected to the seizure of personal property or assets or is at risk for the conviction of a crime, an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney can help. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba understands the legal system and will work hard to protect your rights. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at our office today.

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