State Reps Mary Flowers
Ford Works to Restore Justice & Criminal Justice Reform
Critical to Chicagoland & Illinois Communities
Host “Restoring Justice Summit”
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford, D-Chicago, Chairperson of the Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee, hosted the 2015 Chicagoland Restoring Justice Summit on Saturday, April 11, 2015 in Chicago. The goals of the summit are: to educate members of the community about their legal rights (on matters such as housing, criminal, family law, immigration, etc.); to provide Chicagoland residents with the opportunity to learn about legal resources in their own neighborhood; and to bring together Illinois’ public officials with community residents and organizations to discuss ideas and recommendations for justice reform. Re-entry and recidivism, juvenile justice, sentencing, and community-police relations are among the topics to be highlighted. The day began with a Justice Reform Session moderated by WVON’s Cliff Kelly, at which participants will meet with elected officials. Workshops and presentations by resource vendors followed.
“The feeling nationwide is summed up well by singer John Legend in his Oscar speech, ‘…the time for JUSTICE is NOW….period’,” said Ford. “Too many people in our communities have suffered from, and are still suffering from, the effects of unjust laws in our system. In an effort to generate true reform, we must listen to people who, along with their family members, are directly impacted by the laws, policies, and practices that are put into place. And, we must be willing to make changes when necessary. We invited everyone to the Justice Summit to share their recommendations for real justice reform with their federal, state, and local officials. Make no mistake – we have a clear purpose in our efforts: the ideas shared by people at the Summit will not just sit on a desk; after the event, these recommendations will be shared with legislators and teams like the governor’s Criminal Justice
Reform Commission to create policies and laws for real change in our communities. While at the Summit, we encouraged residents to take advantage of the chance to learn about their rights at workshops presented by volunteer attorneys who practice in these areas of law, and to meet people with resources who can assist those who are confronting legal issues. Thousands have been helped to seal their records with the new sealing law – this was a great opportunity for people to bring their rap sheets or arrest records and work with lawyers in the process of sealing eligible records. This event held in our own backyards,and was an opportunity for our community to make the most of such a ‘rare moment. It was the beginning of our efforts to restore justice in our communities together; if you weren’t there we hope to see you at the next Restoring Justice Summit!”