About Restore Justice


Restore Justice advocates for fairness, humanity, and compassion throughout the Illinois criminal justice system, with a primary focus on those affected by extreme sentences imposed on our youth.  We create and support policies that allow those who are rehabilitated to go home, and that ensure those incarcerated, their families, and victim families have opportunities for healing and justice. We engage currently and formerly incarcerated individuals and their families, victims and their families, communities, and concerned Illinoisans in advocacy and service within the criminal justice system. 


Restore Justice believes every human being deserves dignity, including those who have committed serious crimes.  We work toward a day when the criminal justice system in Illinois treats every case as an opportunity to heal individuals and communities.


Restore Justice believes in:

  • TRANSFORMATION.  All individuals are capable of dramatic change within themselves and people united together are capable of creating dramatic change in systems and institutions.
    • Individuals can and do change.
    • Systems and institutions should recognize and respond to those changes.
  • DIGNITY AND HUMANITY for all, regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, or criminal history.
  • PEOPLE FIRST.  People matter more than any agenda or abstract success, and we strive to make sure that what we do creates real change for real communities.
  • DOING NO HARM.  Restore Justice maintains rigorous checks to ensure that our policies do not negatively impact the people we serve or prevent individuals from accessing services.
  • PRACTICAL STRATEGIES that can achieve ASPIRATIONAL GOALS.  We dream big while also recognizing the dynamics of the system as it is.


Recognition is growing across the political spectrum that the nation’s criminal justice system needs to change. In Illinois, there are strong organizations working on different aspects of the criminal justice system, seeking a variety of reform measures. There are none, however, that are solely dedicated to  the significant and growing population of individuals serving life or life-like sentences for crimes they committed as children or young adults.

In 2014, Restore Justice Illinois, a 501(c)(4) civic group, emerged to help fill this void by directly advocating for compassionate changes to the Illinois criminal code.  But lobbying and advocacy only go so far. It soon became clear that in order to move the needle, we would have to move beyond the statehouse and into the community.

Enter Restore Justice.  Created as a sister organization to Restore Justice Illinois, the Restore Justice Foundation focuses on youth (children and young adults, under age 25) convicted of  crimes who are currently serving—or at the risk of serving—40 years or more in the adult system.  We develop a holistic approach to policy change for this group of people, with implications on the broader criminal justice system.

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