Durbin Meets With Illinois Department Of Corrections To Discuss Prison Reform

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Rob Jeffreys, Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, and John Wetzel, President of the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), to discuss the Trump Administration’s implementation of the recently-enacted Grassley-Durbin First Step Act, the overuse of solitary confinement, and the need for further criminal justice reform efforts at the state and federal levels.  In today’s meeting, Durbin also received an award from the ASCA for his leadership on sentencing and prison reform issues, and specifically his work on the First Step Act.

“The goal of our criminal justice system should be to rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them for successful reentry into our society—that’s why my colleagues and I worked on a bipartisan basis to pass the First Step Act into law last year,” said Durbin.  “In today’s meeting, we discussed next steps in the implementation of the First Step Act, the overuse of solitary confinement, and the need to continue our efforts to reform and improve our criminal justice systems in both Illinois and the nation as a whole.”

Durbin was one of the lead authors of the First Step Act, which was enacted into law in 2018 after years of bipartisan efforts.  The law uses evidence-based recidivism reduction programs to help federal inmates successfully return to society after serving their sentences.  It also reduces draconian mandatory minimum sentences for certain federal drug offenses.

 In March, Durbin introduced legislation to reduce the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) use of solitary confinement and improve conditions for inmates separated from the general prison population.  He also pressed BOP Acting Director Hurwitz to take measures to address the significant increase in the use of restricted housing in the Federal prison system.  Additionally, in April, Durbin, along with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI), requestedthat the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a follow-up study on the use of restricted housing within the BOP. 

 In April, Durbin joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to introduce the bipartisan Restoring Education and Learning (REAL) Act, which would restore Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals and reduce recidivism and incarceration costs by increasing access to higher education.