Preckwinkle Statement on State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’ 4/20/15 Announcement

I am pleased to see that the State’s Attorney has finally recognized what many of us have been saying for years – that our failed drug policies are resulting in the unnecessary detention and incarceration of thousands of people, primarily young men of color, who are accused of non-violent low-level drug offenses each year.

That’s why I have spent the last four years leading a collaborative effort with all of the public safety stakeholders in Cook County, as well as the Illinois Supreme Court, to lower the population of the Cook County Jail by implementing systemic reform throughout our system. Today, as a result of our hard work, the population of the jail is just over 7,800 – the lowest it’s been for more than two decades.

While I hope that the State’s Attorney’s policy changes will result in fewer people in our jail and courts, the fact is that we cannot rely on policies that are subject to change based on public pressure or who is in office. Instead we must change our laws to ensure that reforms are permanent and not subject to the discretion of one actor in a complicated system.

I will continue to work with all of our partners at the state level to change drug laws and policies so that we treat addiction as a public health issue rather than a public safety issue by keeping non-violent addicts out of our jails and prisons and placing them into community-based programs. I hope the State’s Attorney will join me in supporting these legislative efforts in the Illinois General Assembly.