Realizing Reform: Fixing Illinois’ Criminal Justice System

Decades of flawed sentencing laws have swelled the ranks of non-violent offenders in Illinois prisons. The results have included prison overcrowding, strapped budgets, and diminished well-being for current and former prisoners and the public at large.

At the same time, barriers to employment have reduced opportunities for former inmates, tempting them to choose the wrong path and fall back into crime. A testament to this problem is Illinois’ high rate of recidivism—48 percent for adult inmates.

Now a diverse coalition is bringing these issues to the forefront. How can the Land of Lincoln reduce its prison population and ease former prisoners’ reintegration into their communities while keeping our streets and neighborhoods secure? What are the greatest opportunities for and barriers to a better criminal justice system?

Please join the Charles Koch Institute and the Illinois Policy Institute for an upcoming conversation with esteemed criminal justice experts who will explore these and other important questions.


Bryant Jackson-GreenCriminal Justice Policy Analyst, Illinois Policy Institute
Before joining the Illinois Policy Institute, Jackson-Green was a legal researcher and policy analyst with the Liberty Justice Center. He has made several appearances on Fox News Channel’sOn the Record with Greta Van Susteren and has published work in City A.M.Chicago Maroon, and Champaign News-Gazette. Jackson-Green is also an advocate with Young Voices and serves as the vice chairman of the Chicago chapter of America’s Future Foundation. He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago in 2013 and is a Master of Public Policy and Administration candidate at Northwestern University.


Samantha GaddyPolicy Adviser for Public Safety, Office of the Governor
Gaddy was formerly the senior policy adviser for the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC), where she advised policy-makers on the system-wide fiscal impact of sentencing policies and procedures. Prior to SPAC, Gaddy worked as a member of the Illinois Attorney General’s legislative team, advocating for the Attorney General’s legislative agenda in the areas of public safety, crime victim and witness rights, consumer protection, public utilities, and predatory lending reform. She previously worked for the Illinois Innocence Project, helping to investigate post-conviction claims of actual innocence. Gaddy currently serves on the Board of Directors for Fans 4 L.I.F.E, Inc., a school-based mentoring program for at-risk children and is a member of Alpha Phi Sigma, a national criminal justice honor society. She is a native of Alton, Illinois.


Vikrant ReddySenior Fellow, Charles Koch Institute 
Before joining the Institute in 2015, Reddy spent nearly five years at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he most recently served as a senior policy analyst at the Center for Effective Justice and was the original manager of the Right on Crime initiative. Reddy has published numerous articles, contributed amicus briefs and testimony, and is a frequent media commentator on criminal justice issues. He testified before administrative boards and legislative committees more than 30 times during the 83rd Texas Legislative Session alone and has presented invited testimony before the U.S. Sentencing Commission.


Todd BelcoreCommunity Justice Lead Attorney, Shriver Center
Belcore is a staff attorney focusing on litigating, organizing, educating, and crafting legislation to help ensure that former offenders are not unjustly denied employment or occupational licenses. Todd is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law, where he served as president of a student public service organization and, later, as president of Northwestern University’s student bar association. In recognition of his commitment to public interest issues, Belcore received the 2009 PSLawNet Pro Bono Publico Award. Belcore also received the Northwestern University School of Law’s Wigmore Key Award.

David CamicSenior Fellow, Illinois Policy Institute
A member of the Illinois and New York state bars, Camic represents clients in criminal trials in Illinois state and federal courts. He holds the record for one of the shortest jury acquittals in Illinois at seven minutes. Camic has been a speaker at local schools and seminars for professional organizations including bar associations, public defender offices, and police and prosecutor associations. He is currently an adjunct faculty member in criminal and constitutional law at Aurora University. Camic previously chaired the Kane County Bar Association’s Criminal Practice Committee for more than five years, and he continues to be an active member.  He is the author of the journal article “Rights of Pre-Trial Detainees in Illinois.”

Greg NewburnState Policy Director, Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Newburn has been Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) since October 2010. Prior to joining FAMM, Greg worked at the Cato Institute and taught high school economics and government. Newburn is a graduate of the University of Florida and the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He lives in Gainesville, Florida.

Jesse WiesePolicy Analyst, Justice Fellowship
Wiese joined the Justice Fellowship team in 2012. In January 2000, Wiese received a 15 year prison sentence. During his incarceration, he completed his undergraduate degree with honors from Moody Bible Institute. After Wiese’s release, Prison Fellowship hired him as a reentry specialist. In this role, Wiese established community support groups, coordinated with the Iowa Department of Corrections to recommend treatment alternatives, and developed mentor training programs. Wiese left that position to pursue a Juris Doctor at Regent University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Wiese contributes to adult criminal justice reforms in the states and helps develop policy and legislation that reflect the principles of restorative justice.

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