The Honorable Emanuel “Chris” Welch, House Speaker
300 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Dear House Speaker Welch,
We are representatives of organizations with Illinois members and supporters across the state, respectfully asking for your support of HB 1496, introduced by Rep. La Shawn Ford. We urge you to please call it for a vote in the Illinois House of Representatives.
In 2021, the Illinois General Assembly, along with Governor J.B. Pritzker, approved historic criminal justice reforms, making them the law in Illinois. One part of that legislative package was the No Representation Without Population Act. It rightfully restored representation for people who are incarcerated at the time of the U.S. Census in their home communities, rather than in the prisons where they temporarily are being held.
Since that time, we have been working to ensure that the law is implemented properly and that representation is truly restored for people affected by outdated U.S. Census Bureau rules that give disproportionate representation to the communities where prisons are located, undermining the bedrock principle of “one person, one vote.” Through our work, it has become increasingly clear that the Illinois Department of Corrections does not have the last-known addresses for an overwhelming majority of people in their facilities in any usable format.
Without these crucial addresses, incarcerated people will continue to be underrepresented in state government. HB 1496 aims to solve this challenge by removing barriers that currently exist in how last-known addresses are collected. It prioritizes information flow from different levels of government, utilizes existing data; and provides an opportunity for self-reported data from those directly affected by the law by:
- ensuring addresses collected at the local county government level are transmitted to the Illinois Department of Corrections,
- allowing addresses collected for post-releases programs to be used if a last-known address is not on record, and
- allowing a person to self-report their own last-known address by requesting to update their master file.
With these changes, we believe this historical practice that essentially steals representation will become history itself.
On March 9, 2023 the Judiciary-Criminal Committee favorably reported the bill to the House floor on a 10–5 vote, with no organizations or state agencies slipping in opposition. We hope that the Illinois House of Representatives can call and pass HB 1496 prior to the March 24th 3rd reading deadline. The bill’s chief sponsor is Rep. Ford and co-sponsored by Reps. Kelly, Ammons, Collins, Canty, Cassidy and Guzzardi.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this important legislation.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
Common Cause Illinois
CHANGE Illinois Action Fund
Roberto Valdez Jr
Midwest Policy Director
Illinois Alliance for Reentry and Justice
Prison Policy Manager
John Howard Association
Dr. Dilara Sayeed
Muslim Civic Coalition
Workers Center for Racial Justice