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SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. worked to protect the freedoms of incarcerated individuals by enshrining into law their rights to freely practice their religion.

“When someone commits a crime, they do not cease to be human,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “Religious freedom is a fundamental aspect of humanity.”

House Bill 3055 — known as the Faith Behind Bars Act — ensures incarcerated individuals in Illinois remain the right to freely practice their religion while in state correctional facilities.

Under the law, correctional facilities will be required to provide people with religious readings and other religious materials that may be necessary for them to freely practice. It also requires correctional facilities to allow individuals a proper place to pray and adhere to people’s religious dietary restrictions.

“Religion plays an important role in easing a prisoner’s transition back into the community upon release,” said Sims. “Incarcerated individuals deserve to be able to turn to their faith during a time they need it most.”

House Bill 3055 was signed into law Friday.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago) — the chief sponsor of the SAFE-T Act — released the following statement after the Illinois Supreme Court upheld provisions of the Pretrial Fairness Act:

“Since day one, I have maintained that the cash bail system places an undue burden on poor people accused of crime and in and of itself does not adequately make our communities safe. What will make our communities safer is a focus on the totality of circumstances behind crime, holding those responsible accountable, and most importantly ensuring crime doesn’t happen in the first place.

“From the beginning, I disagreed with the plaintiff’s claim that the General Assembly exceeded its authority in this case and am glad the Illinois Supreme Court agreed. The General Assembly is charged with passing laws that will improve the quality of life in our communities and that was true in this case. By upholding this monumental legislation, the Illinois Supreme Court is providing for greater protections and more humane treatment of those who have been arrested and accused of crime.

“Change — when it comes — often faces push back from those who seek to continue to invest in the way things are, which has produced disparate outcomes and had devastating impacts on communities. The goal of the proponents of this law has always been and continues to be for the phrase “equal justice under the law,” to be more than an aspirational statement, but the reality of our criminal legal system.

“Today’s decision will allow us to continue the long-overdue step toward dismantling systemic racism and eliminating the practices which have created barriers to opportunities and obstacles to prosperity for far too long. Illinois continues to show the rest of the nation that monumental change is possible to make the criminal legal system fair, equitable and just for all.

“While we celebrate today’s outcome, our work continues.” 

Category: Press Releases

BackToSchoolFestival

 

CHICAGO – As families across Illinois prepare for another school year, State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. is hosting fun and free community events to help students gear up for the fall.  He is extending an invitation to his upcoming Annual Back to School Festival for families and students in the 17th Senate District.

“It is critical that we continue supporting parents, kids and teachers, which is why I’m proud to host this event again this year and provide resources to families in the 17th District,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “My office is working hard to make sure kids in Chicago and across Illinois will have a great start to this school year.”

The fun and family-friendly Back to School Festival will take place on Saturday, July 29 and feature games, food, entertainment, school supplies giveaways and more. The event will be held at Cole Park, located at 361 E. 85th St., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Sims is also hosting an upcoming event for high school students and other people who are seeking higher education opportunities.

In partnership with Chesterfield Community Council, he is hosting a College Expo on Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Chicago State University – Jones Convention Center.

The free event – located at 9501 S. King Dr. – will include college, university and trade school representatives, seminars on scholarships, apprenticeships, HBCU life and more, as well as giveaways.

For more information, please contact Senator Sims’ office at (773) 933-7715 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. led a new law to end youth solitary confinement – leading to better outcomes for children who are detained.

“Sadly, across the nation, young people are being held in solitary confinement for unreasonably long periods of time, sometimes spending 22 hours or more alone each day,” said Sims (D-Chicago). “That is inhumane and can cause long-term grave psychological, physical and developmental harm.”

Sims’ measure prohibits the use of solitary confinement on young detainees in detention centers for any purpose other than preventing immediate physical harm.

Young people in solitary confinement are isolated both physically and socially, often for days, weeks, or even months on end. Sometimes there is a window allowing natural light to enter or a view of the world outside cell walls. Sometimes it is possible to communicate by yelling to other inmates, with voices distorted, reverberating against concrete and metal. Occasionally, they get a book or bible, and if they are lucky, study materials. But inside this cramped space, few contours distinguish one hour, one day, week, or one month, from the next.

“For children, who are still developing and more vulnerable to irreparable harm, risks are magnified – particularly those with disabilities or histories of trauma and abuse,” said Sims. “Children should not be deprived of the services, programming, and other tools they need for healthy growth, education, and development. We should be helping children grow into productive and healthy adults, not harming them, this is particularly true when they have come into the criminal legal system. If we are going to have true safety and justice, we must invest in a criminal legal system that creates pathways to success not one that tears down our young people and creates a cycle of recidivism.”

Senate Bill 3140 was signed into law Friday.

Category: Press Releases

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Office Info

Chicago Office:
8233 S. Princeton
Chicago, IL 60620
PHONE: 773.933.7715
TEXT: 773.839.4737

Springfield Office:
218 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
PHONE: 217.782.3201