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Governor 'Guarantees' Criminal Justice Reform Push

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey
Gov. Bruce Rauner, left, spoke Thursday with members of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform.

Gov. Bruce Rauner endorsed the work of his criminal justice commission Thursday. He also made an unusual statement on prisons.

Commissioners are still working to reach Rauner’s goal of reducing Illinois' inmate population by 12,000 men and women over the next decade. They have delivered their first set of recommendations, and Rauner told commissioners he was excited about the report, calling it "excellent."

"What I can guarantee you: I will work tirelessly to make sure this isn't just something that just gathers dust," he said. "I’m going to implement this."

Rauner is the first sitting Illinois governor to have visited state prisons in years. He said they’re harsh, hostile places — but they don’t have to be that way.

"They don’t have to be crushing to the human spirit," Rauner said. "My spirit feels crushed when I’m in a prison."

Rauner said "everyone makes mistakes" and "everyone deserves a second chance."

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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