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Archive for the ‘criminal justice reform’ tag

Criminal Justice Reform: New Law Regarding Trial Procedure in Illinois

October 21st, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Illinois law, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorney,Among many other responsibilities, it is the duty of attorneys to stay up to date in any change in law or procedural rules that affect their area of practice. This is necessary not only to maintain up to date knowledge on the area of law that they practice, but also to provide competent representation to every one of their clients when bringing a case in court. Especially in criminal matters, staying abreast of any change in the relevant law, rules of criminal procedure, or any other criminal justice reforms is of the utmost importance, as even the slightest change can affect the outcome of a case.

New Law in Criminal Trials

There has been much talk about reforming the criminal justice system in Illinois recently, something this blog has discussed many times in the recent past. This interest in criminal justice reform is not isolated to the state of Illinois, but rather, is an issue being addressed in many states across the country, and even on the federal level. With all of this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that a new law is going into effect that reportedly reflects a landmark in criminal justice reform. The new law requires that forensic psychiatric reviews of defendants must be disclosed in order for judges to evaluate the facts behind an opinion regarding a defendant’s mental fitness to stand trial.

It is said that the new law aims to promote fairness and transparency in determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial. Proponents of the new law are saying it is an improvement to the criminal justice system. They say that, in situations where each side’s respective experts disagree as to a defendant’s fitness to stand trial, the law’s requirements allow a judge to review the basis of each expert’s opinion in ultimately making a determination.

The law will also require the disclosure of notes and other evaluations that were performed. It was enacted in late September in the state of Illinois. Some are saying it could serve as the basis for other states to enact similar laws across the country.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney who can consult with you about your case, advise you of your options, and protect your rights. The experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have represented clients in many different types of criminal matters ranging in severity throughout Chicago and the greater surrounding area. Please feel free to contact us today in order to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter.

Potential Revised Criminal Sentences in Illinois

July 28th, 2014 at 11:01 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, criminal justice reform, criminal sentences, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, prisoner rehabilitation, revised criminal sentencesAccording to a recent news article, lawmakers in Illinois may soon be considering a reduced criminal sentencing structure. While lawmakers are reconsidering the criminal sentences imposed on certain offenders who are convicted of crimes of a lower level in favor of shorter sentences, they maintain the state is not easing up on crime. Rather, the state legislator who is behind the idea to form a committee tasked with reconsidering the sentencing guidelines says it is more about acting more effectively, and less about letting criminal offenders get off scot-free for their offense.

Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee

The legislator who is behind the possible revision is Representative Michael Zalewski, who reportedly sponsored a bill in the Illinois General Assembly that would create a Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. The committee would be asked to examine options in an effort to improve the chances a prisoner could be rehabilitated while also decreasing the amount of time they remain incarcerated. The group would use research conducted by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) as a foundation for their revision suggestions. Zalewski allegedly advocates for a broader approach to sentencing in the criminal courts, one that involves acknowledging the difference between a drug offenders of a lower level and a felon who possesses a gun.

The Resolution

Zalewski’s resolution recounts some alarming facts about the current system of criminal justice in Illinois. Illinois supposedly spends about $1.3 billion annually to house adult prisoners in the state. It costs approximately $86,861 per year to incarcerate a single juvenile offender. Further, there is a constant problem of prison overpopulation, while crime rates remain relatively high in communities across the state. The information contained in the SPAC’s report addresses some of these issues, and also includes the recidivism rate, parole violations, and the effect of criminal sentencing enhancements on the state’s bottom line.

The committee is expected to take the SPAC’s report into account in determining whether to lower time in prison for defendants convicted of certain minor offenses. It follows other national research, which reveals that prison may act as a deterrent, but offers little rehabilitative value for those who commit minor nonviolent crimes. A portion of the focus of the committee will also include minimizing the effect the sentencing guidelines have on minority groups.

The suggestion to form such a committee comes after Illinois has taken other steps in revising its approach to crime. This includes the requirement of videotaping interrogations, the reduction of the crime of prostitution to a misdemeanor, and making expungements easier to obtain for those criminal defendants who have been successful at rehabilitation.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully defended clients in many types of criminal matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We serve clients in Chicago and the greater surrounding area.

Should Ex-Felons be Able to Vote?

March 3rd, 2014 at 12:47 pm

criminal justice reform, new law, Illinois law, criminal justice system, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorneyAn article recently published by MSNBC explored the possibility for formerly incarcerated individuals to have rights restored that were previously made unavailable to them.

Criminal Justice Symposium

According to a speech Attorney General Eric Holder delivered at a bipartisan criminal justice symposium, the attitude toward disenfranchisement of those previously in prison is starting to be considered unnecessary, unethical, and not productive at all. He said that the laws were based on outdated notions rooted in exclusion and fear and, more seriously, have a disparate impact on minorities. The symposium, hosted by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, is evidence of the push from civil rights groups for reform of the criminal justice system.

Issues Result from Current Criminal Justice System

Part of the problem is the large number, over 1.5 million, of people who are incarcerated in the United States. Almost six million have lost the right to vote as the result of laws that apply to those previously in prison. Legislators are working on laws to lower required minimum sentences at the federal level and grant judges more freedom in handing down extreme sentences.

On the state level, government leaders have made budget cuts by decreasing prison populations. Civil rights groups are hoping that current low crime rates are an indication that the time is right for changes to the criminal justice system.

Criminal Justice Reform a Bipartisan Issue

It seems that criminal justice reform is a subject both political parties can support. Last month, the Smart Sentencing Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is means to reduce the federal mandatory minimum sentences associated with certain drug crimes not involving violence, make certain defendants eligible for reduced sentences, and make the law retroactive which reduces the disparity in sentencing conditions for crack and powder cocaine. While the bill’s passing is positive evidence of bipartisan support, there is not as much agreement regarding increased punishment for crimes involving terrorism, domestic assault, and sexual violence against women.

Bipartisan Support may be Fragile

Still, given the current climate of combined low crime rates and economic concerns, this is seen as an opportunity to make changes that some considered long overdue. Not only will changes to the criminal justice system mean direct effects for the system itself, but indirect effects are also certain. For example, the article states that currently, the number of children in the United States with an incarcerated parent is about equal to the population of Chicago. There is a concern that the perceived agreement between parties regarding criminal justice is delicate and may be fleeting if other criminal matters are introduced and considered by Congress.

These and other changes in the criminal justice system and criminal laws in the state of Illinois are important and could affect your rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney is responsible for keeping informed about changes in the law and procedure. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, contact us today for a consultation.

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