This article appeared in the Chicago Defender on January 31, 2018 and gives a helpful example about how criminal justice is often discussed in politics – whether an alderperson or a candidate for governor. You can see the original article here.
An evening with gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker and his selection for lieutenant governor Juliana Stratton gave voters on Chicago’s West Side insight into portions of their political platform, namely gun reform and criminal justice reform.
The duo was joined by local community stakeholders Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer (Dist.-2nd); 24th Ward Ald. Michael Scott, Jr.; and criminal rights and civil rights attorney Brendan Shiller, managing partner of Shiller Preyar LLC, as part of an intimate panel discussion held at UCAN, 3605 W. Fillmore St.
Prior to the beginning of the panel, Stratton stated in her opening remarks pride over being on the ticket with Pritzker, who she claimed is committed to addressing issues within the criminal justice system.
“[I’ve] been working to transform a criminal justice system that too often lacks just that, justice,” Stratton declared. “When JB asked me to be his lieutenant governor, criminal justice was one of the first things we discussed and I knew about his work to support the Center on Wrongful Convictions, but when we talked I saw a lot more than that; I saw someone who truly cares and I saw someone who gets it and is ready to fight for solutions.”
The Center on Wrongful Convictions is housed in the Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law.
Although the quintet traded opinions over potential courses of action, assessed community needs, and talked more on the topics of economic development, gun violence, and gun reform, Pritzker’s final remarks drove home a few of his larger goals. For example, he pledged to be a “partner in this fight” for criminal justice reform including increasing transparency and accountability among law enforcement officials as one of his priorities.
Gun reform was another big topic of discussion for the gubernatorial hopeful. Pritzker said as governor he would direct the Illinois Dept. of Public Health to address the gun violence “epidemic,” as he called it. He said he would work to lift the federal ban against public health research on gun violence; dedicate resources to “interrupt” gun violence before deadly events took place as a method of prevention; support of universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons with high capacity magazines; spearhead a coalition of states with the directive of policing and stopping the movement of guns across state lines, and more.
“I’ve worked with community leaders and advocates to put together real plans to address gun violence in all of our communities; I believe it starts with treating gun violence like a public health epidemic,” said Pritzker.
Deer, a longtime resident of Chicago’s West Side, said the community has witnessed the ebbs and flows on the number of people impacted by gun violence over the years. He pledged his fight against gun violence would not be over until no more lives were lost.
“I think gun violence is an issue that’s prevalent in our community and we have to have open conversation and open dialogue about some of the things that need to get done in order to remedy the situation,” said Deer. “I believe it’s a multifactorial problem that requires a multi-tiered solution and it is with forums like this that we will be able to come up with solutions.”
Deer would not reveal to the Defender who he decided to support in the gubernatorial race.
Ald. Scott, who said he already lent his support to the Pritzker/Stratton ticket, stated Pritzker’s presence in the community is a fulfillment of a promise he made to come to the community to address issues.
Following the panel, North Lawndale resident Ashley Woods responded to what she heard/saw with four words: “it was very impressive.” She said she intended to relay what she heard from the panel and additional conversations with the elderly individuals on her block who were unable to attend. She said she had not seen Pritzker or Stratton in person prior to the panel but had been keeping close attention to their respective work over the years.
“It seems pretty respectable and they are holding strong to what they are saying; I support them based off my own opinion as well, and listening to their speeches tonight, they hit on a lot of very valuable points,” said Woods.