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Summer/Fall 2023 Newsletter

Summer/Fall 2023 Newsletter

Greetings, and welcome to our latest edition of the Restore Justice newsletter. We mailed our first letter in 2016 to about 100 incarcerated people; we now have over 1,200 people on our list. The first newsletters were just that, a five- or six-page letter just trying to let people know what we were doing. Mailing the first few letters, the Restore Justice staff (five of us, at the time) sat around a table hand-addressing the envelopes. We now use a mail service, and the newsletter has grown to up to 30 pages. We mail approximately 1,200 copies and hope that the letter gets passed around and shared in libraries. We also post the newsletter on our website so your loved ones can read it at 

The goal of the newsletter is to report Illinois-specific updates on court cases, current pending legislation, and any legislation that has passed. We have tried to review any of the state bills that would interest you and let you know the status. We also try to add any type of news regarding Pell Grants, clemency, and more. Lastly, we read every letter we receive and try to address your concerns and questions in the newsletter. We are committed to being as objective, honest, and accurate as possible. Many times, that means sharing news that you may not like, reporting on disappointing court cases and laws that did not get passed. Everyone at Restore Justice recognizes that you deserve the truth. Because of this, we rely on several sources to fact-check us, and sometimes, because everyone we ask is a volunteer, it takes a while. We feel it’s worth the wait.                     

We had a very busy spring. We finished the legislative session and held our annual fundraiser. Our Executive Director, whom so many of you know, Jobi Cates, caught COVID-19 in March and is now suffering the effects of long COVID. We all miss her. We have carried on, and we are happy to report that Jobi, although not completely well, has been working a few hours each week from home for the last few months. Restore Justice has also implemented a continuity of leadership plan with several of our senior staff members doing the Executive Director’s duties until Jobi returns full-time. Wendell Robinson, our Program Director, and Lindsey Hammond, our Policy Director, are our current interim leaders. Wendell is taking on external-focused responsibilities, including fundraising and board relations, and Lindsey is taking on internal-focused staff supervision. 

Restore Justice’s number one policy goal has been to eliminate juvenile life without parole, which we did prospectively in January 2023. Now, we are focused on making the youthful parole laws apply retroactively. Retroactivity is our “North Star;” we knew from the beginning that passing this type of legislation would be difficult, and our policy has been to work towards incremental changes. This has been a difficult road to follow, but we have made changes and will continue to work at it. We are in this for the long haul.

We hope you find this newsletter informative. Please feel free to share it, to write us with questions, or send a quick note to say “Hi.” We love hearing from you. 


Encourage your loved ones to share concerns with IDOC’s family liaison and the Constituent Services office. 

Please let us know if you have interacted with IDOC’s family liaison and/or the Constituent Services office. We are collecting information about interactions with the office so we can be useful in making it work for families. Your loved ones can reach the liaison by emailing or calling (217) 558-2200 ext. 6226. If they do contact the family liaison, please let Restore Justice know about their experience by writing to


The Illinois General Assembly, which includes the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives, usually convenes in Springfield during two periods each year.

The first period is known as the “regular session” and takes place from January through May. Generally, bills considered during the regular session need only a simple majority vote to pass. That means it takes 30 votes in the state Senate and 60 votes in the state House for a bill to pass. Most legislators try to get their bills passed during this time.

The second period, or “veto session,” happens for two weeks in or around October and November. Usually, the first order of business during the veto session is addressing the bills the Governor vetoed during the summer. However, the House and Senate can, and often do, take up new items. It is harder to pass a bill with an immediate effective date during the veto session because it requires a supermajority vote to pass in each chamber; that is 36 votes in the Senate and 71 votes in the House.

Bills can originate in either chamber (Senate or House). If a state senator introduces a bill in the Senate and it passes, it goes to the House. If a state representative introduces a bill in the House and it passes, it then goes to the Senate. The Illinois Constitution requires bills to be read into the record by title on three different days before a vote can be taken. Along the way, a bill is considered in each chamber by a committee that invites expert witnesses to hearings and reviews relevant research. 

Once a bill passes both chambers, it goes to the Governor. The Governor then has four options: (1) Sign the bill into law, (2) do nothing, in which case the bill automatically becomes a law after a certain period, (3) reject the bill entirely (this is a “veto”), or (4) issue an “amendatory veto” to suggest a small change to the bill. If the Governor vetoes a bill or does an amendatory veto, legislators can reconsider the bill during the veto session.

Bills only become law if they pass both chambers and are approved by the governor. While some bills may take effect immediately after being signed into law, most bills have specific dates they become effective. Bills can include a specific date (such as “effective immediately” or “on November 1, 2023). Bills that don’t have effective dates become law based on when they pass; bills that passed before or on May 31 take effect on January 1 of the following year. Bills that pass on June 1 or after take effect on June 1 of the next year. 

At the end of the two-year General Assembly, the legislature usually convenes in early January for a “Lame Duck” session and takes up any legislation that has not passed yet. It’s called this because some of the lawmakers who return for this session will not be in the next General Assembly and are informally called “lame duck” members. We are currently in the middle of the 103rd General Assembly.


January-May 2023 Legislative Session Updates

Key for bill statuses below: In the process for a bill to become a law, the bill has to pass through a committee and the floor of each chamber. After a bill passes both chambers, it is sent to the Governor. Bills that did not advance during the regular 2023 session are indicated below and might be considered by the state legislature later during this General Assembly.

*PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW – This bill is now a law in Illinois.

*PASSED THROUGH A COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE OR SENATE – This bill passed through a committee but did not advance out of the House or Senate chamber.

*THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE – This bill did not pass a committee.

Please note that 2023 legislative initiatives and bills of interest are pending in the Illinois General Assembly and may be amended or changed.

Restore Justice’s Legislative Initiatives

HB 3762/Public Act 103-0051 (Rep. Will Guzzardi/Sen. Willie Preston): Removes statutory references to the death penalty, including the death penalty factors that have been used to provide discretionary pathways to a natural life sentence for people under 18. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24. 

SB 2073 (Sen. Seth Lewis): This bill would allow people who were 20 or younger and sentenced after 1978 to submit a petition for parole consideration. This builds on two recent youthful parole laws; those laws, Public Act 102-1128 (2023) and Public Act 100-1182 (2019), created the first new parole opportunities in Illinois since our state abolished parole in 1978. The most recent law extends parole review for young people sentenced to natural life in prison; this ensures no children 17 and younger can receive a life without parole sentence. Retroactivity would ensure youthful resentencing opportunities are applied fairly and evenly and bring Illinois in line with most states that have retroactively and prospectively abolished life without parole for children and young adults. PASSED THROUGH A SENATE COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE SENATE.

HB 3375 (Rep. Lilian Jiménez/Sen. Adriane Johnson): This would create a narrow exception to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act. The bill would eliminate the “cause” requirement for people sentenced before they turned 21 who want to file new petitions citing their youth. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court created a new constitutional rule requiring states to consider youth and relevant characteristics when sentencing young people (Miller v. Alabama). In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly adopted these factors into state law with the bipartisan Public Act 99-0069. Illinois courts now must consider those factors when sentencing people 18 and younger in adult court. The Illinois Supreme Court later extended the Miller factors to 18-21-year-olds (People v. Harris). The problem is Illinois’ law makes it extremely difficult for a person to file more than one post-conviction petition, and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Miller isn’t a sufficient reason for a person to be able to file a second petition. HB 3375 would solve that problem. PASSED THROUGH THE HOUSE AND A SENATE COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE SENATE.

HB 1501 (Rep. La Shawn Ford): Illinois’ mandatory gun enhancements are the most severe in the country. Judges are required to add 15, 20, or 25 years to life to prison sentences of people who had firearms during the commission of certain felonies. Fifteen years are added if a firearm is possessed but not discharged, 20 are added if the gun is discharged with no injuries, and 25 years to life are added if there is a death or grievous injury. In 2015, Illinois made firearm enhancements discretionary for children younger than 18. HB 1501 would make firearm enhancements discretionary for 18-, 19-, and 20-year-olds. Judges could choose to apply the enhancements if appropriate. PASSED THROUGH A HOUSE COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE.

SB 2067/HB 2324 (Sen. Celina Villanueva/Rep. Lakesia Collins): Under Illinois’ accountability theory, it is legal for a person to be charged with and convicted of a crime they did not commit and also did not plan, agree to, or intend to commit. In fact, the person need not have been present. People charged through accountability can receive the same term of years in prison as the primaries in their cases. SB 2067/HB 2324 would create an accountability offense and propose an alternative sentencing structure for people considered accessories or participants, not the primaries, in a crime. It would also limit the application of accountability by preventing a person who was not part of the original plan from being charged with the unintended crimes of another person. PASSED THROUGH A HOUSE COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE.

HB 3807 (Rep. Maurice West): Mandatory minimums are a one-size-fits-all approach to sentencing that has taken away judges’ discretion and forced extreme sentencing of youth without consideration of the individual circumstances of a case. Long sentences leave people in prison years or even decades after they likely have aged out of crime. To fix this, HB 3807 would give judges the authority to decide appropriate sentences for people younger than 21 on a case-by-case basis and apply additional years to a sentence if appropriate. Judges could apply the full mandatory sentence if appropriate. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2258/HB 3964 (Sen. Robert Peters/Rep. Kelly Cassidy): In 2023, the Illinois Resentencing Task Force recommended prospective and retroactive reform and called for a new pathway to reduce Illinois’ prison population through resentencing. This legislation incorporates the Task Force’s 16 recommendations. It would create a process for people who have served 10 years to petition the courts for another look at their sentences. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2259/HB 3901 (Sen. Robert Peters/Rep. Justin Slaughter): Illinois’ “truth-in-sentencing” law is one of the biggest drivers of our state’s over-incarceration. This law severely limits how long people convicted of certain offenses can earn off their sentences. SB 2259/HB 3901 would allow people with extreme sentences to earn up to 15% off their sentences. Incentivizing people to participate in restorative programming is one of the safest ways to reduce the prison population and prepare people to return home. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2257 (Sen. Robert Peters): In Illinois, there are no limits on how long a person can be held in isolated confinement, which violates an internationally recognized standard called the Nelson Mandela Rules. With the Uptown People’s Law Center, we are working to enact restrictions. The Nelson Mandela Act, also known as the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act, would limit the use of solitary confinement in prisons, jails, and immigration facilities. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

Bills of Interest – Signed into Law

HB 1119/Public Act 103-0276 (Rep. Will Guzzardi/Sen. Pacione-Zayas): This bill replaces two generic “member of the public” board members of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority with two members who report having been previously incarcerated. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24. 

HB 1268/Public Act 103-0280 (Rep. Lakeisa Collins/Sen. Adriane Johnson): Amends the Probate Act to permit people who have been convicted of a felony to serve as an executor of an estate, provided that the person is not currently incarcerated, the testator names that person as an executor and expressly acknowledges in the will that the testator is aware that the person has been convicted of a felony, and that the person was not previously convicted of financial exploitation of an elderly person or a person with a disability, financial identity theft, or a similar crime. Initiative of the Fully Free Campaign. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24. 

HB 1399/Public Act 103-0283 (Rep. Natalie Manley/Sen. Willie Preston): Creates new criminal offense of “lewd sexual display in a penal institution,” defined as “knowingly engaging in a lewd exposure of the genitals or anus for the purpose or effect of intimidating, harassing, or threatening one whom he or she believes to be in the presence or view of such acts” while in a penal institution other than a juvenile facility. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24. 

HB 1496/Public Act 103-0018 (Rep. La Shawn Ford/Sen. Robert Peters): Requires IDOC master record files to include each person’s last known street address preceding incarceration or legal residence collected in accordance with the No Representation Without Population Act. Requires the clerk of the circuit court to transmit to the department, agency, or institution to which the incarcerated person is committed the last known complete street address prior to incarceration or legal residence, the person’s race, whether the person is of Hispanic or Latino origin, and whether the person is 18 years of age or older. Amends the No Representation Without Population Act to permit IDOC to provide a parole or aftercare address to the Board of Elections when the person’s last known residence address is Unknown. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

HB 3026/Public Act 103-0330 (Rep. Kelly Cassidy/Sen. Robert Peters): Allows time spent in county jail to count toward the 60 days that an individual must serve in IDOC before they may be awarded earned discretionary sentence credit (“good time”). Also provides for the recalculation of programming credits for qualifying activities before July 1, 2021, to account for the SAFE-T Act’s expansion of programming credit. This is understood to allow some currently incarcerated people to receive credit for programs that did not earn credit when they were completed. Initiative of Women’s Justice Institute. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

HB 3055/Public Act 103-0331 (Rep. Theresa Mah/Sen. Elgie Sims): Creates the Faith Behind Bars Act to codify the right to practice faith in correctional facilities without undue burden. Requires a person belonging to a faith group in a correctional institution or facility to have access to pastoral and spiritual care absent harm and without undue burden to IDOC. Correctional institutions are required to provide reading materials for faith groups, including spiritual, religious texts, prayer manuals, prayer mats, and other requested materials. All correctional institutions and facilities in the state are required to provide people who are incarcerated with the ability to pray by facilitating time and clean location, the ability to fast by allowing them to abstain from food when appropriate, and respect for dietary restrictions absent harm and without undue burden to the state’s correctional system. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

HB 3253/Public Act 103-0341 (Rep. Curtis Tarver/Sen. Rachel Ventura): Prohibits law enforcement from using deceptive tactics during interrogation on persons with “severe or profound intellectual disability,” making such confessions presumptively inadmissible. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

HB 3322/Public Act 103-0185 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/Sen. Elgie Sims): Amends the Law Enforcement Gang Database Information Act to make evidence indicating one was previously or is currently in a gang database is inadmissible in criminal cases. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 6/30/23.

HB 3345/Public Act 103-0345 (Rep. Cyril Nichols/Sen. Willie Preston): Provides that upon a person’s release from a correctional facility, the Secretary of State will issue the person a standard Illinois Identification Card. The bill provides that no later than 45 days after a person is incarcerated, IDOC will begin the process of obtaining a certified copy of the individual’s birth certificate and a duplicate social security card if they do not have access to them. In order to obtain an ID, the Secretary of State needs the person’s birth certificate, social security card, photograph, proof of residency upon discharge, and an identification card application. Then, 60 days before the person is scheduled to be released, or upon receipt of the person’s certified birth certificate and social security card, whichever occurs later, IDOC will submit an application to the Secretary of State for an ID. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

HB 3648 (Rep. Carol Ammons/Sen. Pacione-Zayas): Creates the Higher Education in Prison Act. RequiresIDOC to release a report on its website detailing information pertaining to higher education. The report would also be shared with the Governor and the General Assembly. Colleges and universities that provide academic programs to incarcerated people will report to the Board of Higher Education on enrollment, retention, completion, and student demographics. The Board of Higher Education will compile this data within 60 days and issue a report to the Governor and General Assembly; the report must be made available on the Board of Higher Education’s website. Initiative of IL-CHEP’s Freedom to Learn Campaign. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24. 

HB 3755/Public Act 103-0203 (Rep. Matt Hanson/Sen. Linda Holmes): Allows IDOC to transfer a person in its custody to the county jail where the person resided prior to incarceration up to 12 months prior to release if the jail has a reentry program. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

SB 89/Public Act 103-0004 (Sen. Glowiak Hilton/Rep. Robert Rita): Extends the sunset date for the Illinois Street Gang and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Law from June 11, 2023 to June 1, 2025. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 5/31/23.

SB 422/ Public Act 103-0071 (Sen. Rachel Ventura/Rep. Justin Slaughter): Requires that IDOC master record files shall contain the last known address, medical, and dental records of the person incarcerated. Subject to appropriation, it requires IDOC to digitize newly incarcerated people’s master record files on or before July 2025; it requires IDOC to digitize all all medical/dental records in master record files on or before July 2027. In addition, all information in master record files and all other information concerning correctional institutions and facilities must be digitized on or before July 2029. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 6/9/23.

SB 423/Public Act 103-0271 (Rep. Gordon-Booth/Sen. Bill Cunningham): 

Allows people on mandatory supervised release to be eligible to earn 90 days off their supervision terms by completing a secondary education diploma or career/technical certificate. This bill also creates a statewide, permanent framework to enable people on probation, parole, and mandatory supervised release to report to their probation officers remotely. It requires that courts impose individualized supervision requirements on each person, ensuring that one-size-fits-all conditions do not unduly hinder success. This also includes ensuring that drug testing is utilized only when there is a reasonable suspicion of illicit drug use, which will conserve state resources and limit employer interruptions. People on mandatory supervised release or parole can go in front of the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) to file for early discharge. This bill standardizes the case review process for early termination of supervision and creates clear guidelines and timelines. Those who are denied early discharge by IDOC or PRB will have clear guidance on how they need to improve to be a good candidate in the future. Initiative of REFORM Alliance. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

SB 424/Public Act 103-0370 (Rep. Kevin Olickal/Sen. Ram Villivalam): Removes the sunset date for the “First Time Weapon Offender Program,” making the program permanent. Allows participation by people 21 years old and older, lowers possible sentencing range from 18-24 months to 6-24 months, and makes many previously mandatory conditions of probation discretionary. Initiative of the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender and the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 7/28/23.

SB 1367/Public Act 103-0215 (Sen. Christopher Belt/Rep. Lilian Jiménez): Amends the Housing Authorities Act such that a housing authority shall not consider certain information when determining eligibility for federally assisted housing, including convictions occurring more than 180 days before the date the applicant’s application for housing is reviewed for acceptance unless required by federal law. “Federally assisted housing” is defined as any housing units or subsidized housing programs funded in whole or in part by the federal government. Requires every housing authority organized under the Act to collect data on the number of vacant rental units within each housing project operated by the housing authority and information on whether each waiting list maintained by the housing authority is open or closed and report the information to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority which shall report it to the General Assembly annually. Initiative of Cabrini Green Legal Aid. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

SB 2175/Public Act 103-0254 (Sen. Mike Simmons/Rep. Justin Slaughter): Prohibits courts from ordering someone to pay outstanding fines/taxes/costs arising from criminal proceedings in the first 180 days following their release from a penal institution. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

SB 2260/Public Act 103-0403 (Sen. Robert Peters/Rep. Kelly Cassidy): Adds “gender-based violence” (in addition to domestic violence) as grounds for which a victim of such violence may seek a resentencing. Changes evidentiary standard for relief from judgment from “no evidence of domestic violence was presented at the sentencing hearing” to “substantial evidence of domestic violence or gender-based violence was not presented at the sentencing hearing” and removes prior condition for relief that movant was unaware that evidence of domestic violence has a mitigating nature at the time sentencing. Initiative of Women’s Justice Institute. PASSED BOTH HOUSES AND SIGNED INTO LAW EFFECTIVE 1/1/24.

SR 172 (Sen. Laura Fine): This resolution urges IDOC facilities to provide all people who are incarcerated with access to bathing facilities once a day. It urges, in the case of a lockdown that lasts for more than two days, that people be provided access to bathing facilities no less than once every two days for the duration of the lockdown. RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE SENATE 5/19/23.

Bills of Interest – Pending

HB 39 (Rep. La Shawn Ford): Would allow people in prison to vote. Initiative of Chicago Votes. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 43 (Rep. La Shawn Ford): Provides that a person who has been convicted of an offense and sentenced to a term of imprisonment for a felony or misdemeanor and who is serving or has served their sentence of imprisonment may institute a proceeding under the Post-Conviction Hearing Article of the Code. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE. 

HB 676 (Rep. Maura Hirschauer/Sen. Don Harmon): Changes to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act and Firearm Restraining Order Act would include requiring firearm removal to occur during service of an emergency order of protection when granted by a judge. It would clarify existing language in statute for a judge to issue a warrant when granting the firearm remedy to allow for consistent firearm removal enforcement across the state. It would close a loophole in the current statute by barring the transfer of firearms ownership when the firearm remedy is granted. Finally, it would add dating partners and ex-dating partners to the list of petitioners in the Firearm Restraining Orders Act to create additional avenues of firearm relief when an order of protection is not needed. PASSED THE HOUSE AND PENDING IN THE SENATE. 

HB 989 (Rep. La Shawn Ford): This would ensure that people convicted of a felony or under sentence in a correctional institution have their voting rights restored within 14 days of their conviction. In provisions concerning temporary branch polling places at county jails, it would provide that a voter entitled to vote in another county, other than the county in which the jail is located, shall be allowed to vote only by mail. Would provide that a correctional institution shall make available to a person in its custody current election resource material from the State Board of Elections and current election resource material that is requested by a person in custody and received at the correctional institution from a local election authority in response to the request. It would create the Post-Conviction Task Force to strengthen and improve provisions that restore the right to vote to a person convicted of a felony or otherwise under sentence in a correctional institution or jail. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 1033 (Rep. Mary Flowers): This bill would remove electronics, video recording devices, computers, and computer peripheral equipment used in online educational courses approved by the Director of Corrections or the chief administrative officer of the penal institution from the definition of “electronic contraband.” Provides that IDOC educational programs include online instruction. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 1092 (Rep. Mary Flowers): This bill would require IDOC to provide educational programs in each institution to all committed individuals. Teachers holding Professional Educator Licenses issued by the State Superintendent of Education under the School Code must be allowed into institutions. Vocational training would also be provided byIDOC. Additionally, institutions within the Juvenile Department of Justice must provide educational and vocational training to committed people. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 2067 (Rep. Maurice West/Sen. Michael Halpin): This bill would allow individuals who have been committed to an IDOC facility to make a transfer request every 6 months. Regarding the Department of Juvenile Justice, an incarcerated person or their guardian may request a transfer at any time. PASSED THE HOUSE AND PENDING IN THE SENATE. 

HB 3315 (Rep. Will Guzzardi): This bill would provide that if a person dies while incarcerated in an IDOC facility, the chief administrative officer of the Department or institution must order an autopsy to be conducted by a physician contracted byIDOC or the county coroner. The autopsy results would be publicly shared and posted on the Department’s website. PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE CHAMBER. 

HB 3335 (Rep. Kevin Olickal): This would allowIDOC to provide temporary housing assistance to a person being released from a correctional institution through rental vouchers to prevent housing instability or homelessness. Temporary housing assistance would not exceed a period greater than six months. IDOC would establish policies for prioritizing funds available for housing vouchers for those at risk of experiencing homelessness while taking recidivism into consideration. PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE. 

HB 3373/SB 2129 (Rep. Carol Ammons/Sen. Celina Villanueva): This bill would provide that people who are incarcerated, including those serving natural life sentences, would be eligible for earned reentry if they have served a term of imprisonment specified as follows: (1) for the first year following the effective date of the act, a person is eligible for earned reentry if they have served 35 consecutive years: (2) for the second year following the effective date of the act, a person is eligible for earned reentry if they have served 25 consecutive years; and for the third year following the effective date of the act and thereafter, a person is eligible for earned reentry if they have served at least 20 consecutive years. Every person would bring legal counsel or an advocate to the earned reentry hearing. People would not be barred from programming because their maximum out date is not in the near future. People would attend and testify at their earned reentry hearing in person or by video conference. All hearings for earned reentry would be conducted by the Prisoner Review Board. Initiative of Parole Illinois. HB 3373 PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE. SB 2129 DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3703/SB 2158 (Rep. Camille Lilly/Sen. Kimberly Lightford): This bill would decrease the restrictions in which it is unlawful for a person convicted of a child sex offense with duty to register to knowingly reside 250 feet from a school building, playground, property comprising any school that persons under the age of 18 attend, or other specified child care facilities. This bill would remove the reporting requirement for persons lacking fixed housing. If a person lacks fixed housing, they would not be required to provide documentation of the registering address. It would make “failure to register” a misdemeanor (from a felony) and reduce the 10-year registration time for Murder and Violent Offenses Against Youth registries to five years. Initiative of the Chicago 400. THESE BILLS DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3740 (Rep. Carol Ammons/Sen. Robert Peters): Would amend the Illinois Higher Education Student Assistance Act to make incarcerated students eligible for Monetary Award Program funds, Illinois’ largest need-based grant program. Initiative of IL-CHEP’s Freedom to Learn Campaign. PASSED THE HOUSE AND PENDING IN THE SENATE. 

HB 1091 (Rep. Mary Flowers): If a person has been found guilty by a judge or jury after a trial, the prosecutor would file with the court at the sentencing hearing a verified written statement signed by the prosecutor setting forth their final offer, if any, of any specified sentence and any charge to be dismissed or not charged in a plea discussion in exchange for a plea of guilty from the person charged and waiver of their right to trial. Would also provide in any sentence that a person shall not be punished by the imposition of a heavier or greater sentence merely because they exercised their constitutional right to be tried by an impartial judge or jury. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 1203 (Rep. Mary Flowers): This bill would amend the Court of Claims Act. It would delete language regarding the amount a court shall award to a person for time unjustly served in prison when the person imprisoned received a pardon on the ground of innocence of the crime for which they were imprisoned or they received a certificate of innocence. Would provide instead that the court shall award $50,000 per year during which the person was wrongfully imprisoned, including the number of years the person was awaiting trial. Would provide that the court shall award attorney’s fees in an amount not to exceed 25% of the award granted. Would provide that the changes made by the amendatory act apply to all claims pending or filed on or after the effective date. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 1245/SB 75 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/): Would create the Second Chance Public Health and Safety Act to establish the Department of Returning Resident Affairs to develop and administer the Second Chance State Program for returning citizens. Initiative of Illinois Alliance for Reentry and Justice. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 2045 (Rep. Justin Slaughter): This elder parole bill would allow a person who is 55 years old and served at least 25 consecutive years of incarceration to petition for parole. If denied, the PRB would provide a rehearing no later than three years after the denial. These provisions would apply retroactively. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 1390 (Rep. Jackie Haas): This bill would provide that a period of probation, a term of periodic imprisonment, or conditional discharge shall not be imposed for a felony offense that requires registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 2956 (Rep. Dan Caulkins): This bill would create the Firearm Crime Charging and Sentencing Accountability and Transparency Act. It would provide that in a criminal case, if a person is charged with an offense involving the illegal use or possession of a firearm and subsequently enters into a plea agreement in which the charge will be reduced to a lesser offense or a non-weapons offense in exchange for a guilty plea, at or before the time of sentencing, the state’s attorney shall file with the court a written statement of their reasons in support of the plea agreement, which specifically states why the offense or offenses of conviction resulting from the plea agreement do not include the originally charged weapons offense. Would provide that in a case in which the original charge is or was for an offense involving the illegal use or possession of a firearm, if the person charged pleads guilty or is found guilty of the original charge, a lesser offense, or a non-weapons offense, in imposing the sentence, the judge would set forth in a written sentencing order their reasons for imposing the sentence or accepting the plea agreement. This bill would also provide for adult prosecution of a minor who was at least 16 years of age at the time of the offense and who is charged with armed robbery or aggravated vehicular hijacking while armed with a firearm. This bill would provide for enhanced penalties for committing various offenses with a firearm. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 2970 (Rep. Christopher Davidsmeyer): This bill would create the offense of unlawful publication of criminal activity. Would provide that a person commits the offense when they knowingly make a video record or live video of a crime while the crime is being committed and transmits or uploads the video of the crime to social media. Would provide that a person who commits unlawful publication of criminal activity shall be sentenced to the same penalty as the penalty for the crime uploaded to a social media site. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3010 (Rep. Dan Ugaste): This bill would increase penalties by one class for unlawful use of weapons when a person knowingly: (1) carries or possesses in any vehicle or concealed on or about their person except when on their land or in their own abode, legal dwelling, or fixed place of business, or on the land or in legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission, any pistol, revolver, stun gun, taser, or other firearm; or (2) carries or possesses on or about their person, upon any public street, alley, or other public lands within the corporate limits of a municipality except when an invitee in or on the public street, alley, or other public lands, for the purpose of the display of the weapon or the lawful commerce in weapons, or except when on their land or in their own abode, legal dwelling, or fixed place of business, or on the land or in the legal dwelling of another person as an invitee with that person’s permission, any pistol, revolver, stun gun, taser, or other firearm. Would provide that a first offense of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon committed with a firearm by a person older than 18 where certain factors exist is a Class 3 felony (rather than a Class 4 felony), for which the person shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than five years. Would increase the penalty by one class for unlawful possession of firearms. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE. 

HB 3252 (Rep. Robert Rita): This bill would change the definition of “delinquent minor” to be consistent with the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. This bill would provide that the penalty for contributing to the criminal delinquency of a minor if the offense committed is vehicular hijacking is a Class X felony for which the person shall be sentenced to not less than 12 years of imprisonment and not more than 60 years of imprisonment. Would provide that if the offense committed is aggravated vehicular hijacking, the penalty for contributing to criminal delinquency of a minor is a Class X felony for which the person shall be sentenced to not less than 30 years and not more than 60 years of imprisonment. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3378/SB 2077 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/Sen. Robert Peters): Would end reincarceration for minor, technical violations of MSR conditions. It would reward people who do not violate MSR by awarding a credit for each day without a violation. Initiative of the Illinois Prison Project and Chicago Appleseed. HB 3378 PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE. SB 2077 DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3380/SB 2079 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/Sen. Robert Peters): This bill would repeal Illinois’ three strikes law, returning discretion to judges. It would allow people currently incarcerated under Illinois’ three strikes law to seek a resentencing. Initiative of the Illinois Prison Project and Chicago Appleseed. HB 3380 PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE. SB 2079 DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3381/SB 2078 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/Sen. Robert Peters): This bill would reclassify felony murder from first-degree to second-degree murder. It would allow prosecutors to consider the extent of a person’s involvement when making charging decisions. They may charge an accomplice with second-degree murder while retaining their right to charge principals with first-degree murder. People currently convicted under the felony-murder rule would be allowed to seek resentencing. Initiative of the Illinois Prison Project and Chicago Appleseed. THESE BILLS DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3418 (Rep. Justin Slaughter/Sen. Laura Murphy): This bill would create the Securing All Futures through Equitable Reinvestment (SAFER) Communities Act. It would provide that the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity create a program to award grants to community navigators for specified purposes, including wage reimbursements for employers that employ certain formerly incarcerated people. Would repeal a tax credit for wages paid to people with a felony conviction and establish a credit for wages paid to returning citizens. PASSED THE HOUSE AND PENDING IN THE SENATE.

HB 3495 (Rep. Dave Severin): This bill would restore the death penalty for the first-degree murder of a peace officer killed while performing their duties, to prevent the performance of their duties, or in retaliation for performing their official duties, if the person charged knew or should have known that the murdered individual was a peace officer. This bill would create the Capital Crimes Litigation Act of 2023. It would provide specified funding and resources for cases in which a sentence of death is an authorized disposition. Would create the Capital Litigation Trust Fund. Would provide that all unobligated and unexpended money in the Death Penalty Abolition Fund are transferred into the Capital Litigation Trust Fund. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3534 (Rep. Jay Hoffman): This bill would provide that a person is legally accountable for the conduct of another when, acting as an aggressor, they cause another to use force in defense of himself or another and that use of force is the proximate cause of injury to a third party. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

HB 3818 (Rep. Carol Ammons): This bill would require the Board of Higher Education to establish the Commission on Higher Education in Prison. Would provide that the Commission shall be responsible for assisting the Board in implementing and coordinating the recommendations of the Illinois Higher Education in Prison Task Force. Would provide that within the first three months after its first meeting, the Commission would identify recommendations to implement, with a minimum of three recommendations per year. Would provide that any recommendations that are identified shall expand access to quality higher education in prison and propel the State to being a national exemplar in the area. This bill would also set forth provisions concerning Commission membership, meetings, responsibilities, and dissolution. PASSED THROUGH COMMITTEE BUT DID NOT ADVANCE OUT OF THE HOUSE.

SB 87 (Sen. Laura Fine): Would provide that all IDOC facilities provide every person with access to bathing facilities once a day. In the case of a lockdown, the bill would provide that access to bathing facilities would be restricted for the first two days. If the lockdown continued for more than two days, people would be provided with access to bathing facilities no less than once every two days for the entirety of the lockdown. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 1483 (Sen. Mike Simmons): This bill would provide that people convicted of a felony or under sentence in a correctional institution would have their right to vote restored no longer than 14 days following the conviction or five days before an election following the person’s confinement. Election authorities would be required to collaborate with a correctional institution to facilitate mail voting for eligible voters. This bill would also require correctional institutions to make election resource materials available to people in custody. The State Board of Elections would be required to create an annual data report in conjunction with correctional institutions regarding compliance with provisions. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE. 

SB 1830 (Sen. Elgie Sims): Would reclassify the penalty for possession of small amounts of drugs from a felony to a Class A misdemeanor and offer behavioral health assessments and access to treatment for people who need it, rather than incarceration. Initiative of ACLU-Illinois. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2091 (Sen. Patrick Joyce): This bill would provide that a hate crime is a Class X felony if committed by a person over the age of 18 while armed with a firearm or if the victim of the hate crime, at the time of the offense, was under the age of 18. This bill would also provide that a period of probation, a term of periodic incarceration, or conditional discharge shall not be imposed for such offenses. Would provide that such offenders may receive no more than 4.5 days of sentence credit for each month of their sentence of imprisonment. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2187 (Sen. Terri Bryant): This bill would provide that the annual report of the Prisoner Review Board transmitted to the Director of Corrections list how many C-Number Cases and Good Conduct Requests are considered, granted, and denied by the Board, disaggregated by offense, including but not limited to, murder and offenses involving sexual conduct or penetration, and indicate if the victims were under 18 years old or members of law enforcement. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.

SB 2150 (Sen. Steve Stadelman): Would require the Prisoner Review Board to create a standardized petition for pardon, commutation, or reprieve and an online portal for the petition to be filed electronically. THIS BILL DID NOT ADVANCE.


These are summaries created to the best of our abilities and are for informational purposes only. You or your attorney are ultimately responsible for reading the cases and making arguments accordingly.

There has been a great deal of litigation in the appellate courts, with mixed (both positive and negative) results. The decisions below can always change if higher courts, such as the Illinois Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, overrule them or if the Illinois General Assembly passes a law that conflicts with the ruling.

People v. Moore-Williams, 2023 IL 126461 & 126932: The Illinois Supreme Court consolidated two cases and ruled in May 2023. The petitioners, who were both 19 years old at the time of their crimes, received natural life sentences and were denied leave to file successive post-conviction petitions challenging the proportionality of their sentences as applied to them under the Illinois Constitution and 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court found that Miller v. Alabama does not apply to people older than 17. The court stated that Illinois law has always recognized the special status of young people, and the petitioners had the necessary information from the beginning of their cases to present their claim regarding their age.

People v. Fuentes, 2023 IL 211405-U: In a ruling establishing precedent similar to the above case, an Illinois Appellate Court denied the petitioner leave to file a successive post-conviction petition. The petitioner was 23 years old at the time of the offense and said his brain was similar to that of a child, so Miller v. Alabama should apply and establish cause. The court ruled the petitioner was too old to be considered a youthful offender under Miller

People v. Wilson, 2023 IL 127666: The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the petitioner did not establish prejudice for his 8th Amendment claim; the court denied leave to file a successive post-conviction petition. This case overruled People v. Holman, which previously held that a juvenile could only be sentenced to discretionary life without parole if the court determined the youth was “permanently incorrigible,” or, in other words, incapable of rehabilitation. This case will go back to an Appellate Court to determine if the petitioner’s claim under the Illinois Constitution’s Proportionate Penalties Clause is still valid. 

People v. Campbell, 2023 IL 220373: The court ruled that the petitioner successfully showed the cause and prejudice needed to file a successive post-conviction petition challenging the constitutionality of his 110-year sentence. This Appellate Court case clarified the ruling in People v. Wilson, which is summarized above. The sentencing judge was forced to give the petitioner a de facto life sentence (and lacked the discretion to depart from it) because the minimum sentence the petitioner could receive was 51 years, above the 40 years which People v. Buffer defined as a de facto life sentence. The court ruled that the use of discretion under Miller is meaningless where the minimum sentence available is more than 40 years. This means that although sentencing courts can hand out discretionary de facto life sentences, the court must have options that make it actually discretionary, not discretionary in name only.

People v. Garcia, 2023 IL 172005: An Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the petitioner’s 100-year sentence was excessive, and the case was sent back for a new sentencing hearing. The court rejected the petitioner’s claim that his sentence violated the Proportionate Penalties Clause of the Illinois Constitution and the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because of his cognitive impairments, holding that an intellectual disability does not fall within Miller because it is a characteristic that will generally not change over time, compared to the characteristics of youth that tend to change and develop. 

The court agreed with the petitioner that he was penalized for exercising his right to trial and that the trial court did not consider his intellectual disability or potential for rehabilitation in sentencing. The petitioner’s sentence was six decades longer than what the prosecution offered and 64 years more than what the trial judge recommended. The court found there was no reasonable explanation for this difference other than that he was penalized for choosing to go to trial rather than taking a plea deal. This does not mean that any sentence received that is significantly greater than the offer counts as a trial penalty. The court also reasoned that an excessively long prison sentence does not serve the goal of rehabilitation, so by sentencing the petitioner to 100 years, the sentencing court was essentially saying that the petitioner was not capable of rehabilitation even though they did not actually consider his potential for rehabilitation. 

People v. Cavazos, 2023 IL 220066: The petitioner was previously convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, and aggravated discharge of a firearm, all of which he committed at the age of 17, and given an aggregate sentence of 50 years. Despite the fact that the sentence was over 40 years which People v. Buffer defined as a de facto life sentence, an Illinois Appellate Court ruled this was not a de facto life sentence without the possibility of parole as considered in Miller, Buffer, and all related cases because the petitioner will have a meaningful opportunity for parole. 

The new parole statute, 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-115, gives people under the age of 21 at the time of the offense an opportunity for parole after serving 10 years for a non-homicide offense and 20 years for a homicide offense; this would give the petitioner the opportunity for parole before he has served 40 years in prison, the court ruled. The court did question whether this potential ability to go before the Prisoner Review Board qualified as a “meaningful” opportunity for parole but ultimately decided that since there is no constitutional or inherent right to parole proceedings, it is possible that all that is required to meet this standard is to be eligible for parole.

People v. Profit, 2023 IL 210881 & People v. Wells, 2023 IL 210292: In both of these cases before different Illinois Appellate Court districts, petitioners argued that because 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-115 (the parole statute mentioned in the above case) applies only prospectively to defendants sentenced after June 1, 2019, it violated their 14th Amendment Constitutional right to Equal Protection. Because the classification of groups did not involve any suspect classes (like race or gender), the statute only needed to meet the rational basis test, which requires there to be a rational relationship to a legitimate state interest – a standard that is very easy to meet. Both courts ruled similarly, finding that the Legislature’s decision to grant parole eligibility to those sentenced after June 1, 2019, is rationally related to the Legislature’s goal of slowly implementing sentencing reforms, meaning the statute was not unconstitutional. 

Pending cases:

People v. Hilliard, 128186: The Illinois Supreme Court will consider whether the petitioner’s proportionate penalties clause challenge to a 40-year sentence imposed for a crime committed at age 18 was incorrectly dismissed. The trial court based part of its decision on the fact that the petitioner did not receive a de facto life sentence, even though no Illinois court has previously limited proportionate penalty violations to life sentences.

People v. Vidaurri, 129551: The Illinois Supreme Court will decide whether, following the decisions in People v. Dorsey (2021 IL 123010) and People v. Clark (2023 IL 127273), the petitioner, who was over 17 years old at the time of the offense, is categorically precluded from challenging his de facto life sentence under the proportionate penalties clause in a successive post-conviction petition, even if his initial petition was rejected on the grounds that youth is not mitigating. 

People v. Webster, 128428: The Illinois Supreme Court will look at whether People v. Holman (2017 IL 120655) should have been overturned when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Jones v. Mississippi (141 S. Ct. 1307 2021) that sentencing courts are not required to make a separate factual determination that a youth is permanently incorrigible or incapable of rehabilitation before sentencing that person to life without parole.

People v. Clark, 127838: The Illinois Supreme Court will make a decision on whether a person who committed an offense prior to the enactment of 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105, but who is resentenced after the effective date is entitled to consideration of the Miller factors at resentencing.


We love hearing from you. Although we cannot individually respond to all the letters we receive, we read every letter and note your concerns. Please read below for answers to your frequently asked questions.


Sentence Credit (or as it is generally referred to, “good time”) reduces the amount of time that a person spends incarcerated. This time is awarded either on a mandatory or discretionary basis. MANDATORY sentence credit covers things that IDOC is required to issue by law, such as actual days served in custody (including “county time”). DISCRETIONARY sentence credit is awarded at the discretion of IDOC. Rules around sentencing credit are set forth in 730 ILCS 5/3-6-3. Please note, that IDOC has the power (within limits) to revoke any good time. There are three main types of sentence credit issued:

  • “SSC” – STATUTORY SENTENCE CREDIT – This is the “good time” that IDOC is required to issue. In other words, it is automatic. This covers the time given to someone sentenced under 50%, 75%, or 85% sentences. People serving sentences for everything but murder committed after June 18, 1998 are eligible to earn SSC. 
  • “EPSC” – EARNED PROGRAM SENTENCE CREDIT – This is the “good time” that is earned under IDOC programming. This covers the “contracts” that people sign for school, work, etc. IDOC is required to allow people in their custody to earn good time for participation in certain kinds of activities/programs (jobs, school, cognitive behavioral therapy groups, re-entry programming, etc). EPSC is earned at different rates and issued at different stages of programming based on the rules and statutes. All of the information required should be available to you on the “good time”  contract you sign. 
  • “EDSC” – EARNED DISCRETIONARY SENTENCE CREDIT – This is the “good time” that may be issued at IDOC’s discretion. IDOC administration can issue EDSC (to those who are eligible under the law) in increments of one day or as much as 365 days (if the criteria are met).


Updates from FAFSA: 

  • Federal Pell Grants are now available for students who are incarcerated. These grants are need-based and do not have to be paid back. You may be eligible if you are enrolled in an approved prison education program. The federal Pell Grants award can be up to $7,395 per academic year.
  • The FAFSA application for the 2024-2025 academic year is being updated. Instead of the application being released on October 1, 2023, you now can expect the application to be released in December 2023.
  • Starting July 1, 2023, convictions involving drugs do not affect federal aid eligibility. Those who are subject to involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense may be eligible for a Pell Grant.

What do Pell Grants Cover?

  • Pell Grants can be used to cover a multitude of educational credentials, including certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Pell Grants can cover tuition, fees, books, course materials, supplies, equipment, certification, or a first professional credential.
  • You can receive a Pell Grant for up to 12 terms/semesters (about six years).

How do I know what Federal Aid I’m eligible for?

For those incarcerated in a federal or state facility, or in another type of facility, you have limited eligibility for aid, but you may be eligible for a Pell Grant if:

  • You are enrolled in a prison education program, and 
  • You cannot receive federal loans. 

You may be eligible for federal work study and federal supplemental education opportunity grants, however, per FAFSA, it might be difficult to obtain and perform a federal work-study position while incarcerated. 

For students who are exiting the carceral system:

  • Eligibility limitations related to one’s incarceration will be removed per FAFSA. You may apply for federal aid prior to your release so your aid can be applied for your academic term.
  • If you are applying for aid before your release, use the mailing address of the facility you reside in. Then, when you are released, you can update your address by calling the FAFSA help center at 1-800-43-3243 to request an address change. Or, you can visit their website and change it online. 

If you are looking to apply for financial aid, it is strongly recommended that you fill out the FAFSA as early as possible. The earlier you apply, the more likely you are to qualify for federal, state, and college-based grants and scholarships. Even if you are ineligible for federal student aid, you are encouraged to still complete the FAFSA because many schools/universities and states use the FAFSA to award non-federal aid (including grants and scholarships through the school), and you may be eligible. 

If you are interested in enrolling in a Prison Education Program (PEP): 

  • Reach out to the education staff in your specific facility and see what postsecondary education programs they offer.
  • It is common that colleges have their own admission requirements, as do correctional facilities. If you are deemed ineligible, reach out to the educational staff at your facility for more information. 
  • If your facility does not have an eligible PEP, reach out to colleges in your local area to propose creating a PEP program.

If you have any questions about PEP programs, you can email or contact the Department of Education by sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Education:

Prison Education Programs

400 Maryland Ave SW 

Washington, D.C. 20202


In 2019, Public Act 100-1182 created new parole opportunities for people under 21 coming into prison with extreme sentences ahead of them. This law created the first new opportunities for parole in Illinois since the practice was abolished in 1978. People seeking review now have the right to an attorney, and the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) must consider the hallmark features of youth and subsequent growth when making their determinations. Leonard Parker was the first person to go before the PRB for a review of his youthful conviction. In an 11-0 vote for parole, Mr. Parker was released on parole on July 28, 2023!

This year (2023), legislators built on the 2019 law and fully abolished new life without parole sentences for everyone 17 and younger and most people 18-20. Public Act 102-1128 extends parole review to young people sentenced to natural life in prison. This bill was prospective only. Restore Justice has a bill pending that would create retroactive parole opportunities (see description above).


The Prisoner Review Board (PRB) considers cases of people who are incarcerated and eligible for parole, sets conditions for parole and mandatory supervised release, revokes good conduct credit, suspends or reduces the rate of accumulating such credit, and reviews recommendations for executive clemency. 

There are supposed to be 15 members of the PRB, but as of right now, there are 13 members on the board (with two vacancies). The current members of the PRB are Donald Shelton (Chair), Jared Bohland, Matthew Coates, William Delgado, Julie Globokar, Darryldean Goff, Jeffrey Grubbs, Rodger Heaton, Leeann Miller, Robin Shoffner, Carmen Terrones, Krystal Tison, and Ken Tupy.


*Dates and locations of hearings are subject to change or extension.

January 9 to January 11, 2024

Hearings held in Springfield: the Crowne Plaza, 3000 S. Dirksen Parkway, at 9:00 a.m.

Deadline for filing a petition: October 26, 2023, by 5:00 p.m.

April 9 to April 11, 2024 

Hearings held in Chicago: Location, to be determined. 

Deadline for filing a petition: January 25, 2024

July 9 to July 11, 2024

Hearings held in Chicago: Location to be determined.  

Deadline for filing a petition: April 25, 2024

October 8 to October 10, 2024

Hearings held in Chicago: Location to be determined. 

Deadline for filing a petition: July 24, 2024

ILLINOIS RESENTENCING TASK FORCE (different from the State’s Attorney Resentencing Initiative, below)

In 2021, House Bill 3587 (Public Act 102-0099) created the Resentencing Task Force (RTF) to study ways to reduce Illinois’ prison population through resentencing. The bipartisan task force consisted of a diverse group of stakeholders, including legislators, law enforcement leaders, retired judges, state’s attorneys, public defenders, and criminal legal reform and victim advocates. The RTF received input from people who are incarcerated and their family members, victims of crimes, and other members of the public. The RTF’s final report and recommendations, intended for the Illinois General Assembly and Governor, result from a year-long process of study and analysis of resentencing and pathways to reduce the prison population in Illinois. The report was released to the public in January 2023. Copies of the report are available in every IDOC library across the state.

The RTF’s primary recommendation is that legislators and the governor create both prospective and retroactive resentencing opportunities, allowing people who are currently in prison to have their cases reviewed. Sentencing reform in Illinois has almost always been prospective only – meaning these changes only apply to people sentenced after a bill’s effective date, and people already incarcerated do not see relief. The report outlines a process by which people who are incarcerated could initiate resentencing processes. The report argues a resentencing process must consider mitigating factors, such as the convicted person’s age at the time of the crime, trauma history, substance abuse, and medical history. Further, the report highlights that people age out of crime and those who have served decades in prison rarely re-offend. Thus, resentencing must be considered for people serving lengthy sentences for serious crimes from decades ago.

This marks the first time an Illinois government entity has recommended retroactive reform and acknowledged retroactive reform is both constitutional and overdue. It is clear: Sentencing reform must be applied to people already incarcerated under laws we have since determined to be outdated or wrong. While no retroactive legislation has yet been passed, Restore Justice has introduced a bill based on the RTF’s recommendations to be considered by the 103rd General Assembly.

Restore Justice extends a huge thank you to everyone who submitted letters regarding resentencing to the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council. While our team does not have the capacity to respond to individual letters, we read every single letter and identified quotes that were incorporated into the final RTF report as testimony.


Public Act 102-0102 (SB 2129) allows state’s attorneys, at their discretion, to motion a sentencing judge or their successor to resentence persons whose original sentences no longer advance the interests of justice. Upon receipt of a motion for resentencing, sentencing judges may, at their discretion, resentence a person who is incarcerated to a lesser sentence. SB 2129 went into effect on January 1, 2022. Illinois is one of five states that has codified prosecutor-initiated resentencing. So far, only two people have been released in Illinois under SB 2129.

SB 2129 does not set parameters for what types of cases are eligible for resentencing, putting full discretion in the hands of state’s attorneys to consider anyone sentenced from their respective counties. The law also gives judges explicit permission to consider post-conviction factors, including:

  • Disciplinary record and record of rehabilitation while incarcerated
  • Evidence that reflects whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition have reduced the risk for future violence
  • Evidence that reflects changed circumstances since the original sentencing such that continued incarceration no longer serves the interests of justice.

Since this initiative is at the discretion of the state’s attorney, it is up to each state’s attorney’s office to decide if and how they will implement SB 2129


COMMUNITIES & RELATIVES OF ILLINOIS INCARCERATED CHILDREN (CRIIC) We meet on the second Tuesday of every month, alternating between in-person and virtual, from 1 to 3 p.m., to discuss legislation, court decisions, and prison conditions. We also share our strategies for self-care and caring for an incarcerated loved one. Your loved ones do not have to do it alone. Please have your loved ones email Julie Anderson at to be added to our email list for meeting information and registration. In-person meetings are held at Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation, in “The Front Porch,” located at 1130 W 51st St. in Chicago. Lunch is provided for in-person meetings. 

Upcoming CRIIC meetings typically occur on the second Tuesday of each month. They are scheduled for:

November 21st, 2023, 1 to 3 p.m. – IN-PERSON – Holiday Card signing 

December 12th, 1 to 2:30 p.m. – Via Zoom – We hope to have a representative from IDOC  join the meeting.

January 9th, 1 to 3 p.m. – IN-PERSON – visiting issues

February 13th, 1 to 2:30 p.m. – Via Zoom – This will be our advocacy meeting: learn how to help pass laws!

LOVED ONES REUNITED (LOR) is a newer support group dedicated to loved ones who have had someone come home or someone ready to come home from prison. The group meets in person monthly on Saturdays at Precious Blood, 1130 W 51st St. in Chicago from 10 a.m. to noon. We talk about issues we are facing with our loved ones. To be added to our email list for meetings, please contact Julie Anderson at


We provide the opportunity for returning citizens to come together to share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies, and first-hand information about the challenges they face reentering society after such long periods of incarceration. RCN’s monthly meetings are led by Restore Justice staff and attended by recently returned citizens who were incarcerated for lengthy adult sentences as youth and young adults. The most meaningful aspect of these meetings is that they help returning citizens develop a sense of togetherness when returning to society after serving a long sentence; it is important to have a safe space to deal with the stressors of life after incarceration. To be added to our email list about these meetings, please contact NaJei Webster at


Our Advocacy Team is for anyone who lives in Illinois and wants to advocate for sentencing and prison reform, and for bills that help family members. We ask team members to spend a few minutes each week during the January-May legislative session contacting their legislators. This is an easy way for someone with limited time to advocate for compassionate change. Share this link with your loved ones:


Our free advocacy trainings are open to individuals and organizations interested in advancing change in our state through the legislative process in Springfield. While our focus is on criminal legal reform, we try to make our training useful for any issue. 


People can learn more and register with this link:

Thursday, November 2nd, from 3:30 – 5 p.m. (Virtual)

During Legislative Advocacy 101, you’ll learn about the legislative process and how a bill really 

becomes a law in Illinois, develop skills to navigate Springfield, and learn to build support for issues that matter to you. 


Saturday, November 4, from 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (In Person, on Chicago’s South Side)

Tuesday, December 13, from 3:30 p.m. -5 p.m. (Virtual)

This is a more advanced training than Legislative Advocacy 101, but everyone is welcome.

When we add training dates, we will post them on our website,; please have your loved ones check for updates.


Your loved one can visit our website to view this newsletter virtually:


Restore Justice is happy to add anyone incarcerated in Illinois to our mailing list. Your loved one can email or use this link: We are always happy to hear of people being released. If you are released, please send us an email at We would love to stay in touch when you return home. 

If you are transferred, please let us know. Mark the envelope: “Address change.”

Many of you have written requesting email correspondence from us; we are sorry, but it is not practical at this time for us to send out legislative updates via email.



Jobi Cates, Executive Director

As many of you may know, I have been struggling with “long Covid” since late March. Most people with long Covid, including me, experience fatigue, racing heart, trouble with the nervous system, and cognitive problems. And for me and millions of others, it has resulted in a radical change in quality of life.

As of this writing, I am attempting to return to work by spending an hour or two on my computer each day. From late March through early July, I was on a full medical leave. It is hard to express how much I miss my work at Restore Justice – both the everyday joys and challenges of working with our team, and the feeling of “rightness” that comes from working hard to accomplish our goals. And while being limited in what I can do is hard, it is also gratifying to see how much our team is learning and growing in my absence.

A friend reached out to me recently to see how I was doing. I shared that while I am grateful for all that I have (the fundamental security provided in my marriage, from my children and community, and by my access to decent health care), I also struggle when I succumb to the feeling that I have no control over my recovery and feelings of fear about the future. My friend wrote back: “Journeys we don’t choose but have to take are the hard ones. They push us. Yet somehow, deep inside, the brokenness creates something in us that makes us better persons. It’s a different thing for all of us. I had to learn to stop asking why and instead ask what now.”

What now? I am lucky that I’ve been in another type of recovery for more than 15 years: I am a recovering alcoholic. And so I have a program and a community to remind me that when all else fails, I can find solace somewhere in the day (or hour, or moment) that I am in. That’s right! My answer to “What now?” is to practice good ol’ “One Day At A Time.” For today, it is enough to write this note to you, do a few other tasks, and get the rest I need to be present for my family for an hour or two this evening.

I wish you all the gifts that can come from staying in the day we are in: I wish you peace, I wish you presence, and I wish you the kind of freedom we can all access inside ourselves (and all the other kinds of freedom, too). 

Julie Anderson, Outreach Director 

Greetings everyone, it’s been an exciting year for me. My son came home after 27-½ years. Originally sentenced to life without parole, for 22 years, I lived with the thought he would never be released, so miracles do happen. Since we abolished life without parole for most people under 21, our new number one goal is retroactivity for the Youthful Parole Bill. We have lots of other things on our list, including “truth In sentencing,” and visiting issues, to name a few. We will just keep on working until we see real reform in Illinois. We have had many formerly incarcerated people join us, along with other groups trying to work to make changes in the sentencing policies and conditions of confinement. It makes such a difference when your stories are shared with legislators and policymakers. I want to thank all of you who do as much as you can from inside to help our cause, including donating paintings for auctions, sharing your ideas, and writing letters. Stay safe.

Lindsey Hammond, Policy Director

Hello! I hope this newsletter finds you well. We wrapped up an interesting legislative session in May. Members of the General Assembly introduced 6,689 bills this spring. Only 566 bills passed both chambers and made it to the Governor’s desk. That’s an 8% passage rate! There were not as many wins as we hoped for criminal legal reform, but we will continue to press on for you. Our team has been traveling around the state to meet with legislators in their district offices during the summer and fall when they are home from Springfield. I enjoy these conversations the most because we have more time to talk than when we are at the capitol, working against deadlines. In addition to discussing our legislative agenda, we are encouraging legislators to visit IDOC facilities and have the opportunity to talk directly with you. Please continue to write to your legislators and to us to let us know how you are doing and what is important to you. We love hearing from you and sharing your thoughts whenever we can. We think of you often, especially in the heat, and hope you stay safe and comfortable. Peace and blessings to you.

Alissa Rivera, Communications Director

Hello! This summer, we have had a wonderful team of interns, and I have been grateful to work closely with them to advance our policy work. Our interns (who will introduce themselves in this newsletter) have researched everything from registries to re-entry support to sentencing. Our team will be sad when they return to school – but we are proud of them! Earlier this summer, we launched our new website. Our goal is to make it easier for you and your loved ones to find and use information and to find ways to engage with Restore Justice to help bring about policy change. Please encourage your loved ones to visit and find ways to advocate with us! As we enter the fall, I am looking forward to a WBEZ event for families, sharing new research and pieces on our new website, and our advocacy trainings.

Wendell Robinson, Program Director

Hey y’all, As I sit not knowing what direction to take this in, it hit me. I must share what I’m learning about the power of good energy! We’ve been speaking with legislators this summer, both in our RJ office and meeting in lawmakers’ district offices. I must add these are people on both sides of the aisle. Some with similar views, others not so much. And that’s OK. Because what we have on our side is good energy. No matter who we’ve met with, as long as good energy had a presence, we’ve had extremely productive meetings.

Simply put, good energy trumps everything! Believe me, y’all, if there’s anything I could share with each and every person reading this entry, it would be that of good energy. It’s so everlasting! Embrace it y’all.

Forever in solidarity! Wendell 

Alice Swan, Operations Director

Hi everyone, I hope that as this newsletter finds its way to you, the worst of the summer heat has passed. Since our last newsletter, we held our first post-pandemic, in-person fundraising event. We had more people than ever before attend, to listen to the stories of two wonderful mother-son duos, our Outreach Director Julie Anderson and her son Eric, who is one of our newest apprentices, and one of our long-time family group members and advocates, Gloria Jackson, and her son Demetrius, one of our recently graduated apprentices. It is heartening to have ever-more of the people we’ve been fighting for present in the room with us each year, and we continue to amplify their stories. 

Another big thing that has happened since our last newsletter is that we graduated a “class” of apprentices, who are now applying their talents at other organizations–Marcelo de Jesus Velazquez is a Public Policy Strategist at WIN Recovery, an organization that provides re-entry support to formerly incarcerated women and fights housing, employment, and parental rights discrimination against formerly incarcerated people. Maurice Hughes is the Outreach Coordinator at Uptown People’s Law Center, focusing on educating people about housing rights, and Demetrius Jackson is in a training program at GRO Community, a community mental health center that provides counseling services to men and boys. I am so, so proud of these guys, and can’t wait to see what they will accomplish in their new positions! 

Nelson Morris, Development Manager

Hello, everyone. It is so nice to have this opportunity again to connect with you, my brothers and sisters. It has been quite a journey since we last spoke. We had an exciting in-person fundraising event. And I have had the pleasure of watching three of our apprentices leave and go on to do great things. It is so cool to see us come home and contribute to society in amazing ways, but that is no surprise. I always tell legislators that the best of us are still locked up, which is why second chances are extremely important. I am learning to use my story in effective ways in order to show we can make society better with our contributions instead of being in a cell. I understand firsthand that it doesn’t always feel like anyone is fighting for you, but try to stay positive and focused. I also understand that it is easier said than done. Since I’ve been home, I have had opportunities to meet some great people. I am still in awe with how many quality people are coming home and picking up this fight. Brothers and sisters, you are not forgotten! Stay in faith!

James Swansey, Policy Manager

What’s going on everyone. Dropping back in to give you all a little of my journey on this side. Becoming more involved in this advocacy space has opened my eyes to many things, and given me opportunities to bring change to a system I once endured, and still do in many ways. Knowing that I can now have an effect, from the smallest conversations to the bigger discussions, gives me the desire and passion to keep moving forward. Change is possible in every way. So to everyone striving to be more than what they think you are, keep pushing. Second chances, always will create better opportunities, not the other way around. It has almost been three years since I was released, and it has truly been amazing in every way. And the journey is literally just getting started. Keep pushing and stay fighting, ya boy Swan.  

NaJei Webster, Program Manager

Hey Everybody!! I hope everyone is thriving the best way that they can in there. My journey since being home has been a blessing every day, but it has come with its own set of struggles. Life will throw you the most unexpected curve balls, and let me be the first to tell you that the only way to prepare for these unforeseen occurrences is to try to get your mind together before you come home. Last week, I had the PRIVILEGE to watch a post-conviction 2nd stage hearing with a Circuit Cook County judge John Lyke Jr., and that was the first time I walked out of a courtroom feeling at peace. He was the first progressive judge I was able to observe, and he gave me hope for the criminal legal system. I was so thankful to be able to witness a judge who actually saw “defendants” as humans & he took the time to hear what people had to say. But the BEST thing I witnessed that day was Judge Lyke’s family contact policy. He had a rule in his courtroom that allowed anyone in custody who had support in the courtroom the opportunity to embrace their families! There wasn’t a dry eye in the room!! It was a beautiful thing to see, being one who was not afforded that opportunity at the most horrible time in my life. A BIG salute to Judge Lyke!! You all are in my prayers. Until next time, Jei Jei

Eric Anderson, Apprentice

Greetings to all of our impacted community members and our amazing supporters (supporters who experience the impact of the legal system in a different but just as visceral way). My name is Eric Anderson, and I was released from KLSRC on April 25th, 2023, after serving 27 and a half years. I was blessed to apply for and be selected to participate in “F.L.A.P.” (Future Leaders Apprenticeship Program), RJ’s life skills/non-profit advocacy/employment training program. This is my first opportunity to write for our Newsletter. I helped create and run Kewanee Horizons along with a group of dedicated impacted people (and some staff support), so you may have seen my name before. As I write this, I have been out for about 3 and a half months. It is true that there are obstacles and challenges that I wasn’t prepared for, things that are unique to me, as well as obstacles that are common to our community. There are also opportunities for us. There are opportunities to reach out and say to people who we are, who you are, and why you should be home. There are opportunities to make a tangible impact on the lives of so many people who have been marginalized or excluded in the past. I am dedicated to helping create a more restorative, humane world for our community by bringing people home and improving the lives of those waiting to come home. Peace, Eric. 

Joseph Moore, Apprentice

“What a difference a year makes.” I remember exactly where I was when I read those words approximately two years ago. After being home for a year, Mac had written those words in the very newsletter that you are now holding in your hands. When I read those words, I wondered, “What difference does a year make?” Well, let me tell you that it makes a big difference. In the year’s time since I’ve been released, I’ve completed Safer Foundation’s jobs skills training, I’ve been trained as a peace circle keeper, I’ve spoken at Restore Justice’s Impacted Excellence Gala, I have been selected to be a member of Restore Justice’s Future Leaders Apprenticeship Program (FLAP), and I’ve acquired my commercial driver’s license. For those of you who know me, and for those who don’t, not only do I carry you all in my heart and mind, I strive to serve as an example as to what society can expect from the Impacted Excellence upon their release. Stay strong, stay focused. Peace, Yosef.

Corinne Kannenberg, Postdoctoral Fellow
Hello! I have been at Restore Justice for about 11 months now, and I am so grateful for this opportunity. Along with Michele, I am an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Leading Edge Fellow. I have a PhD in history, but I came to this work after teaching college classes in prisons in New Jersey. Together, Michele and I are working on a project about juvenile life without parole sentences in Illinois so that legislators and the public can better understand the individual experiences and circumstances behind the extreme sentencing of children and youth. We have the privilege of sitting down with people and hearing their stories, and I have learned a great deal about the carceral system from people impacted by incarceration. Take good care.

Michele Kenfack, Postdoctoral Fellow 

Hello everyone. I joined Restore Justice in September 2022 as an American Council of Learned Societies Leading Edge Fellow. I have a PhD in French and Francophone literatures. I came to this work because I wanted to learn more about the criminal legal system, and so far, it has been a pleasure working at RJ and witnessing important legislative reform related to juvenile incarceration in Illinois. As part of a project on juvenile life without parole, I am working with Corinne to document the stories of those who have been impacted by the carceral system. We hope sharing these stories will help the public become more familiar with the system, and support RJ’s future advocacy purposes. Sending you all warm wishes. 

Greetings from our Interns:

Jo Trasowech                                                                               

Hello everyone! My name is Jo, and I am a third year student at DePaul University studying Criminology and International Relations. I have been with Restore Justice since January. I have had the opportunity to research policies such as accountability theory across different states and the history of sentencing and write content for the website such as “Why Parole Matters” and “Why Land Acknowledgements are Important.” Currently, I am receiving a grant from the Steans Center at DePaul called the McCormick Internship, in which I partner with a community organizing group and design a project in order to further my own academic career while promoting the success of my partner. Through this grant, I am working on a project with Restore Justice that exemplifies the potential of previously incarcerated people to create an impact in their communities. I am extremely grateful to be a part of the Restore Justice team, and I look forward to the rest of my time here!

Mollie McKone                                                                                

Hey y’all! My name is Mollie McKone, and I will be a senior at the University of Notre Dame this fall, studying Political Science and Gender Studies. This May, I began working as a policy intern at Restore Justice and have been extremely blessed to be a part of such a special and tenacious community. This summer, I focused on researching crime registries and mandatory minimums as well as the emerging climate injustices in prisons. Along with my research, I have had the opportunity to join Restore Justice as they meet with legislators and engage in court support outside of the office, as well as working with Corinne and Michelle on their juvenile life without parole storytelling project. I have learned so much about enacting change through the use of storytelling and legislative advocacy, and am so grateful to have spent my summer with such an inspiring group of people. Blessings, Mollie.  

Cate Burtner                                                                                 

Hello everyone! My name is Cate, and I am a third-year undergraduate student at Stanford University studying English literature. I had the wonderful opportunity to work as a policy intern at Restore Justice this summer. During my time here, I have worked on several projects, including researching mandatory minimums and legal age limits in Illinois, completing state-by-state research on bills supporting families of incarcerated people and restrictions on solitary confinement, as well as writing explanatory pieces on our Mandela bill and parole versus mandatory supervised release. This summer has been inspiring and life-changing as I have been able to do work I am passionate about while surrounded by intelligent and impactful people. I am grateful to all the staff at Restore Justice, and would like to shout out Alissa for being a wonderful supervisor!

Ma’at Husband-Ausar                                                                         

Hey everyone! My name is Ma’at, and I am going into my third year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Psychology, with an emphasis on Diversity Science and African American history. While interning at RJ this summer, I was able to construct RJ’s Black Labor Acknowledgement, which honors and recognizes the incredibly large impact that enslaved African people have had on this country’s economy and infrastructure for over 300 years, while meeting some of the most inhumane and disgraceful treatment. I have also been able to conduct research on the racial disparities within the carceral system, both on a national scale and in Illinois specifically. While exploring that, I was able to learn more about the historical context of that disparity, while also investigating the socially constructed idea of “race” and racial identification. I have felt very blessed to be able to share the room and collaborate with everyone here at RJ. There is so much knowledge and passion from everyone in this space, and being around that energy is extremely motivating and inspirational. And, I believe having that type of community is extremely important when doing social justice and equity based work. 

Anna Dexter

Hi, my name is Anna, and I’m a 2nd year law student at Loyola University Chicago. This summer, I have spent time researching for the wonderful team at RJ and will continue to do so through the fall. I have looked for ways to hold the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) accountable for actions they are statutorily mandated to take; I researched and drafted the litigation updates you read above; and I have also spent a lot of time researching accountability law in Illinois and looking for the best way we should tackle policy to limit the current approach in Illinois, taking some inspiration from what other states and countries are doing. It’s been a great experience working with and learning from all the great people at RJ, and I hope the work we do will be helpful to you in the future!

Rob Pennel                                                                                  

Hello everyone! My name is Rob, and this summer, I’ve had the opportunity to work at Restore Justice as a policy intern. Soon, I’ll return to my undergraduate coursework at the University of California San Diego, where I’m studying political science with a focus on race, ethnicity, and politics. During my summer at RJ, I’ve researched the impact that maintaining family connections has on incarcerated individuals, solitary confinement and its harmful effects, and potential solutions to support people returning from JLWOP sentences. My time at RJ has been extremely rewarding and impactful. I am fortunate to have had the chance to work with such a committed organization alongside a team full of inspiring people. Although my time at RJ is quickly coming to an end, I hope to stay connected to the important work that this team does. 

Leo Smith

Hi all! My name is Leo, and I am going into my junior year of high school. I have been lucky enough to work at an incredible organization such as Restore Justice, and I will take with me a lot of experiences and lessons from inspirational people. I spent the summer researching, organizing, and categorizing letters and various documents, and during that time, I grew a great passion for all of the wonderful values that Restore Justice works towards. While my time with Restore Justice was all too short, I hope to continue the fight for the compassion and justice that everyone reading this deserves throughout the rest of my life. 

Restore Justice 

PO Box 101099

Chicago, IL 60610

Please -send us your address changes, if you are paroled, please let us know.  We send the newsletter out to almost 2000 incarcerated people, and if they are returned that is a newsletter that could have been mailed to someone else.  We do read ALL of the mail.

Restore Justice, PO Box 101099, Chicago, IL 60610