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CONVENTION RECAP: Celebrating journalistic excellence: Kramer, Craven and Distinguished Service awards winner honored during dinner

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(From left) Jon Whitney, Jerry Taylor, Don Craven and John Lampinen received awards for their careers of excellence in Illinois journalism during this year's IPA/IPF annual convention in Springfield.
(Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

By ERIN HENKEL
For Illinois Press Association

SPRINGFIELD – Tears and laughter filled the room as the legacies of five men who have had a significant impact on Illinois journalism were recognized during a celebration dinner Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Illinois Press Association/Foundation annual convention.

Jon Whitney, Jerry Taylor and Don Craven were honored as Distinguished Service Award winners, recognition that each received in 2020 before that year’s convention and the 2021 event were forced to be held virtually due to the pandemic.

John Lampinen was named the 2022 recipient of the James C. Craven Freedom of the Press Award, and the late Mike Kramer was honored as the first person to receive the Mike Kramer Legislative Award.

They were all honored during a dinner at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel.

 

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Jon and Nancy Whitney embrace during the Illinois Press Association's Celebration Dinner on Aug. 11 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield during the IPA/IPF convention. Jon Whitney, who owns and operates the Carroll County Review weekly newspaper in Thomson along with Nancy, was honored as a winner of an IPA Distinguished Service Award. Introducing Whitney was Illinois Press Foundaiton Board President Jerry Reppert (right). (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association.)

Jon Whitney

Whitney and his wife, Nancy, have operated the Carroll County Review weekly newspaper together for more than 55 years. So it was fitting that the first thing Jon did after receiving his award was to ask Nancy to join him on the platform.

Nancy, Jon said, has been his partner in every aspect of life.

“We’ve been married for almost 57 and a half years,” he said. “Fifty-five years and two months of that time we’ve run a newspaper. We worked side by side. …She deserves this award as much as I do. She’s the person who made it possible.”

In addition to being a newspaper owner and publisher, Whitney served as president of the Illinois Press Association Board in 1985 and is a longtime member of the Illinois Press Foundation Board.

Whitney is still serving his local community, working 70 to 80 hours a week to put out a weekly paper.

“Jon is the true spirit of a newspaper publisher” said Jerry Reppert, president of the IPF Board who introduced Whitney.

Whitney appreciates the camaraderie he has found while attending the Illinois Press Association conventions.

“You can’t walk next door in a small town and talk shop. We can come down here and talk shop. So, thank you. My deepest appreciation for this award,” Whitney said.

Dinner attendees also took the opportunity to sing “Happy Birthday” to Whitney, whose birthday was Aug. 12, the following day.

 

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Jerry Taylor (center), surrounded by friends and family members, receives a Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Press Association on Aug. 11 in Springfield. Taylor was editor and publisher of The Dispatch in Moline and The Rock Island Argus for many years. He also served on the IPA Board from 1997 to 2005 and as its president in 2004. Taylor was introduced by Roger Ruthhart (left), former editor ofThe Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

Jerry Taylor

Jerry Taylor has contributed a lifetime of service to the Illinois Press Association and local journalism in the Quad Cities. Taylor served on the Illinois Press Association Board from 1997 to 2005 and as president in 2004.

“In my 24 years as executive director, I can easily say Jerry was the most outstanding board member and board president I knew” former IPA President Dave Bennett said in a comment that was read to the audience by Roger Ruthhart in his introduction of Taylor.

During Taylor’s time as editor and publisher of The Dispatch in Moline, and The Rock Island Argus, he advocated for statewide changes, including advocating for verbatim records of closed meetings and access for cameras in courtrooms.

“Jerry wasn’t afraid to use the power of his own newspaper to help make statewide changes” said Ruthhart, former editor of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus.

Taylor also focused his career on the importance of journalism that served local needs.

“Under Jerry we never had a feeling that a story was too big for us,” Ruthhart said. “I can’t remember that he ever spiked a story. When we got into a dicey one, he’d just say call [IPA attorney Don] Craven.”

Taylor’s devotion to serving others was evident in how former colleagues described him:

“Jerry is fiercely intelligent, focused, and driven and yet he is open to new ideas and other people’s opinions,” said Mike Romkey, who managed the newspapers’ editing hub, in quotes read by Ruthhart.

“Jerry is a fierce partisan for the Illinois Quad Cities, the newspapers he ran, and his staff, yet he is aways gracious and fair. Jerry is a demanding boss with high standards, yet he is willing to forgive the indiscretions of youth and inexperience. I think it was Jerry’s formation as a Catholic and Christian man that added to his God-given intelligence and talents that made him easily the best boss with whom I ever worked. Managing skills and business expertise are all balanced on values and Jerry’s values are rock solid.”

Taylor was joined in attendance by a number of family members who filled two tables in the room.

 

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(From left) Don Craven, his wife, Denise, and his mother-in-law, Judith Sholtis, listen as Jim Slonoff, co-owner and publisher of The Hinsdalean newspaper in Hinsdale, introduces Don as a recipient of an Illinois Press Association Distinguished Service Award. Craven, a longtime legal counsel for IPA member newspapers and current IPA president and CEO, was honored during a celebration dinner at the IPA/IPF convention Aug. 11 in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

Don Craven

Craven was honored for the many years of legal service and leadership he’s provided to the Illinois Press Association and its member newspapers across the state.

“It would be nearly impossible to find a newspaper that hadn’t received the counsel of Don Craven,” said Jim Slonoff, co-owner and publisher of The Hinsdalean newspaper in Hinsdale. “He has helped guide reporters, editors and publishers. From the intricacies of libel law to navigating the Open Meetings Act. From working with politicians to building trust with local officials. From testifying before committees of the Illinois General Assembly to representing newspapers in courtrooms across the state. He trained to be a lawyer but he seems to have the heart and soul of a newspaper man.”

Craven became president and CEO of the IPA last year after having served as interim president during two different periods in the previous two decades. Craven got his law degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1981, and soon set up shop in Springfield with his father, Jim. Today, Craven and his son, Joe, are partners in the Craven & Craven Law Office in Springfield.

For decades, Craven has been provided legal counsel to the hundreds of newspapers that are IPA members.

“Teddy Roosevelt once said ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick.’ Craven has been that big stick at the side of Illinois newspapers in his almost four decades of service,” Slonoff said. “For the folks that would go on the record, the message was crystal clear: Don Craven has been and will always be a source of wisdom, guidance and friendship. He is the lighthouse that always brightens the path during the darkest hours of the storm.”

Craven, much like his own father did, encourages his sons to help create positive change in their communities.

Craven would ask his sons “What’s tomorrow’s headline going to be?”

Slonoff told the audience that Craven’s sons, Joe and David, explained that this was to get across a few different messages but mainly one challenge: Going about your average day isn’t going to get you on the front page. To be the headline you either have to do something incredibly stupid or do something incredibly special. It was a simple phrase — don’t do anything stupid today, but more importantly go do something meaningful. Make a change in your community [and] have an impact on something you care about.”

 

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John Lampinen (left) and Dennis Anderson of Shaw Media share a laugh during the Illinois Press Association Celebration Dinner on Aug. 11 in Springfield. Lampinen, who served as editor of the Daily Herald for 48 years before retiring at the end of 2021, received the James C. Craven Freedom of the Press Award during the dinner. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

John Lampinen

The James C. Craven Freedom of the Press Award was created to honor a lifelong commitment to a free and open press.

“[The] cornerstone of democracy is an educated electorate. If you don’t have an educated electorate they don’t know how to make decisions and you need a free and open press to serve that purpose,” Don Craven said.

The 2022 Craven Freedom of the Press Award was presented to John Lampinen, who served as editor of the Daily Herald for 48 years before retiring at the end of 2021.

“Those of us who became editors …never would have felt the absolute joy in watching a protégé grow unless we had [become editors],” Lampinen said. “It’s the most wonderous thing. People work hard and they seem stuck, and they work hard and they seem stuck, and they work hard and one day the blossom. Suddenly it just happens. Their promise emerges like a flower that has opened overnight. It brings tears to your eyes sometimes to see it,” Lampinen said.

While serving as editor of the Daily Hereld, Lampinen dedicated his time to promoting ethical and responsible journalism. Lampinen started a campaign called Facts Matter. Although he is retired now, Lampinen is still dedicated to promoting factual information.

“Facts matter,” he said. “They are the most important element in a democratic republic. In order for the people to make good decisions in how we are to be governed they must be informed decisions, so the campaign has to continue. There is no alternative but for it to continue.

“We are all swimming in a sea of misinformation. Some of this misinformation is simply a failure of wrecking social media and improperly vetted information. Some of it is simply a failure to recognize bias and vested interests. Much of it is cynical, purposeful misinformation. Particularly given the country’s deep polarization, many of us tend to be too eager to accept anything that agrees with our point of view. We accept propaganda. We accept lies. We accept manipulation. As citizens we have obligations to be much more educated. We are obliged to develop healthy skepticism that trains us how and when to challenge even those assertions that we wish to be true.”

Lampinen said that in retirement he is spending time with family, and after 48 years in a newsroom he enjoys not feeling like he is in a hurry.

“I just want to thank the Association and Don. This is such a thoughtful award and such a surprising one and I am deeply touched by it,” Lampinen said. “It is a reflection not of my career but of the Daily Hereld and all of the people I’ve worked with over the years, dedicated journalists and dedicated newspaper people. I am particularly touched that it is named for Judge Craven, the Craven family, and certainly Don, one of the people I’ve looked up to for so many years. [He’s]so dedicated to the First Amendment and public access. [He] does such important work and I am so grateful for this. Thank you so much.”

 

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Ann Kramer (center) receives the Mike Kramer Legislative Award which was given to her husband, the late Mike Kramer, from Peter Mierzwa (left), president of Law Bulletin Media, and Don Craven, president and CEO of the Illinois Press Association. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

Mike Kramer

The first Mike Kramer Legislative Award was presented during the celebration dinner. The award was created in 2021 to honor Mike Kramer, former president of Law Bulletin Media. Kramer passed away in December 2020 after spending a lifetime promoting an open and transparent government.

So it was fitting that the first award honors Kramer.

“The Chicago Daily Law bulletin has been around since 1854, 168 years, and throughout all that time we have been advocating tirelessly as well for legislation and positions that support newspapers. I can’t think of anyone who has devoted more of their time, more of their talent than Mike Kramer to that cause” said Peter Mierzwa, current president of Law Bulletin Media

Kramer was charismatic and passionate about public policy that benefited newspapers and a free press. Kramer took a personal approach to promoting legislative interests.

“He loved associating with the legislators. …One of the other things he enjoyed doing as (Law Bulletin Media Co-Chairman and CEO) Sandy (Macfarland) liked to highlight was ‘working the rail’ at the state Capitol, coming in to meet all the new legislators,” Mierzwa said. “It was important that people understood that he had a balanced opinion and that built that sense of trust which is the currency you need to do well in that kind of environment.”

The annual award recognizes individuals or organizations whose legislative efforts have ensured access to an open and transparent government.

Don Craven recalled how Kramer would attend events for political candidates and lawmakers, and “work the room” better than the candidate.

“He would be talking to everybody. He would be listening to everybody,” Craven said. “He would be making jokes with everybody. He was just so damned effective. And he had fun doing it.”

Kramer spent his life in the news publishing business and joined the Daily Law Bulletin in 1997, rising to publisher of Chicago Daily Law Bulletin and Chicago Lawyer magazine in 2007 and as company president in 2015.

Kramer’s spouse, Ann, and his daughter, Megan, accepted the award.

“Thank you so much for this honor,” Ann said. “Mike would have been so grateful and happy to be here with you.”

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(From left) Peter Mierzwa, president of Law Bulletin Media, Illinois Press Association President and CEO Don Craven and Ann Kramer share a laugh after Kramer's husband, the late Mike Kramer, was honored as the recipient of the first Mike Kramer Legislative Award during the IPA Celebration Dinner on Aug. 11 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

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Jerry Taylor (right) and Roger Ruthhart pose for a photo after Taylor was honored as a Distinguished Service Award recipient by the Illinois Press Association on Aug. 11. Ruthhart introduced Taylor, who was an editor and publisher for many years at The Dispatch in Moline and The Rock Island Argus. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

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Don Craven, president and CEO of the Illinois Press Association, congratulates Lucy Lampinen after her husband, John Lampinen, was honored as the 2022 recipient of the James C. Craven Freedom of the Press Award during the IPA Celebration Dinner at the annual convention Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

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Denise Craven and Jim Slonoff share a hug during the Celebration Dinner Aug. 11. Denise's husband, Don, received a Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Press Association during its convention at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield. Slonoff, the co-owner and publisher of The Hinsdalean newspaper in Hinsdale, introduced Craven. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

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Jason Hegna, vice president of sales for Shaw Media, enjoys a drink and laughs with other convention-goers during the Celebration Dinner Aug. 11. (Photo by Erin Henkel for Illinois Press Association)

 

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Press Releases

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2024

Contact Information:
Jann Ingmire
(312) 520-9802
communications@isms.org
 

Lake County physician sworn in as president of Illinois State Medical Society
 

CHICAGO – Piyush I. Vyas, M.D., was sworn in as president of the Illinois State Medical Society (ISMS) during its recent annual meeting. He was previously elected president-elect in 2023.

Dr. Vyas received his medical degree from MS University of Baroda in Baroda, India, and completed his radiology residency at Cook County Hospital. 

Dr. Vyas is board-certified in diagnostic radiology. Since 2004, he has been an attending physician at Lovell Federal Health Care Center, where he served as chief of radiology and nuclear medicine until 2018. Since 2018, he has been the associate director, Clinical Support Services. He was also assistant professor of radiology with Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science from 2005 to 2016 and served as vice chairman of radiology from 2012 to 2016. Currently he is an associate professor of radiology at Rosalind Franklin and actively involved in teaching medical students. He is also a valued member of the admissions committee at the university. 

He has been an ISMS member for 40 years and has served for many years as an ISMS alternate delegate and delegate to the AMA, as well as a past trustee and chair of the ISMS Governmental Affairs Council. Dr. Vyas served as president of the Lake County Medical Society for two separate terms and served on multiple committees, at the county and state level. He is also a past president of the Indian American Medical Association.

Dr. Vyas’ term as ISMS president will run through April 2025. 
 

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Founded in 1840, ISMS is a professional membership association representing Illinois physicians in all medical specialties, and their patients, statewide.  



 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2024

Contact Information:
K. Eric Larson
(847) 997-2109
elarson@eyso.org
 

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras to premiere new compositions at Terra metallicum on Saturday, April 13
 

ELGIN, Illinois. (April 11, 2024) – Wanees Zarour, a renowned performer, educator, and expert in Middle Eastern music, will join the award-winning Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestras (EYSO) as guest artist for a genre-bending evening of musical collaboration and performance at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 13, in the Auditorium at South Elgin High School at 760 E Main St, South Elgin.

EYSO’s flagship Youth Symphony and its Brass Choir will perform with Zarour, who has been working with EYSO student musicians in rehearsals this past month, and through a masterclass at the high school earlier in the day. They will premiere two new compositions at this concert.

Zarour is an award winning Palestinian-American composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist steeped in maqam and jazz music. His compositional and arranging styles transcend borders and draw from traditions spanning the entire globe. 

For millennia, the complex and rich relationships between the natural world and humankind have captivated scholars, scientists, philosophers, and artists. Fruitful and fraught, timeless, and fragile, these relationships inspire a tremendous spectrum of artistic expressions that imitate, investigate, and emulate the interconnected worlds of nature and humanity. In EYSO's 48th season, explore how sound reflects the natural and built worlds around us — and how the two are united through music.

To see a more complete list of performances or for tickets, go to www.eyso.org/concert. In addition to traditional in-person seating, tickets are available to experience the concerts via live streaming.

About EYSO
The mission of EYSO is to create a community of young musicians, enriching their lives and the lives of their families, schools, communities and beyond, through the study and performance of excellent music.

EYSO serves students from 70 Chicagoland communities and has a national reputation for providing students with an engaging musical experience and a comprehensive learning environment of curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and collaboration. Students explore a thematic curriculum each season — one that helps students develop artistically and technically, and prepares them for a future of complex ideas, creative risk-taking, and leadership as global citizens. This approach has led hundreds of alumni to successful careers as professional musicians, educators, and strong leaders in every field. The theme of EYSO’s 48th season is GAIA through which students explore how sound reflects the natural and built worlds around us—and how the two are united through music. 

EYSO is accepting applications to audition for the 2024-25 season at www.eyso.org

To learn more about EYSO, visit www.eyso.org or call (847) 841-7700.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2024

Contact Information:
Monique Whitney
(505) 480-4150
email: monique@truthrx.org greynolds@ipha.org
 

Illinois pharmacists rally at State Capitol to end prescription drug middlemen patient steering, support increased state oversight

Community pharmacists call attention to increasing prescription drug costs, decreased access to care and emerging pharmacy deserts correlated to pharmacy benefit manager practices.

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL (March 5, 2024) – Illinois pharmacists will gather at the State Capitol today to rally in support of HB 4548 and SB 2790, proposed legislation which would eliminate controversial practices by prescription drug middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs. The rally is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. and will be held near the Lincoln statue, located at the east end of the State Capitol and will include brief remarks by bill sponsors and constituents negatively impacted by PBM prescription drug pricing practices.

If enacted, HB 4548, sponsored by Rep. Jones, would protect patients’ right to receive prescription medication from the pharmacy of their choice, banning the lucrative PBM practice of “steering” patients to PBM-owned or affiliated pharmacies or mandatory mail order. Sen. Koehler’s SB 2790 would empower the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services with greater oversight of PBM contracts; monitoring of payments made to PBMs and pharmacies; and ensuring PBM rebates negotiated on behalf of HFS are fully paid to HFS.

“We applaud Representative Jones, Senator Koehler and the many members of our state legislature who are championing these critical measures that would protect the state’s patients and pharmacy providers,” said Illinois Pharmacists Association President Rupesh Manek, RPh, pharmacist and Rochelle-based pharmacy owner. “The proposed legislation is evidence of a responsible governing body aware of the pitfalls that come with overpaying pharmacy benefit managers for services that should be provided in the interest of fiscal responsibility, not overcompensating shareholders.”

Last May, Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino released the results of a Performance Audit of Pharmacy Benefit Managers, finding the state’s Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) department did not have complete copies of the contracts between managed care organizations and PBMs necessary to conduct monitoring of contract provisions, or between PBMs and pharmacies to be able verify accuracy or rate of reimbursement to pharmacies. The result of passage of SR 792 in 2022, the Performance Audit of the Medicaid Managed Care (MMC) PBMs identified over $200 million over 2 years in spread pricing overbilling to the MMC prescription program.

Anne Cassity, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) said “NCPA commends the Office of the Auditor General for its diligence in revealing gross overpayment to PBMs in Illinois’ Managed Medicaid program. Sadly, Illinois is joining numerous other states in recognizing how PBMs harm both the patients and payers – both public and commercial – they purport to serve. We urge Illinois to join the ranks of states who have established comprehensive PBM regulation with strong enforcement provisions to ensure patient access to pharmacy services at their neighborhood community pharmacy.”

PBMs manage patients’ prescription drug benefit, acting as the liaison between the patient, the pharmacy, and the patient’s employer or health plan sponsor. Since 2019, numerous studies have uncovered evidence of PBMs practices that result in endpayers paying significantly more for patients’ prescription medication than the patient’s pharmacy was reimbursed (a practice called “spread pricing”); and patients “steered” away from their pharmacy of choice to PBM-owned/affiliated pharmacies. Additional studies have shown the drug manufacturer rebates PBMs negotiate increase a drug’s list price year over year, causing patients to pay more out of pocket because of rebate-inflated costs. For more information on the rally or how PBM practices are affecting Illinois patients and taxpayers, contact Illinois Pharmacists Association at IPhA.org. Learn more about NCPA, the country’s largest organization of independent pharmacy owners, at NCPA.org. To understand how PBM practices affect patient care and affordability of medication for consumers and end payers, visit PUTT’s website at TruthRx.org.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 4, 2024

Contact Information:
William Nissen, publisher of the elderparole.org website
(312) 882-6338
email: wmjnissen@gmail.com
website: https://www.elderparole.org/
 

Advocates to deliver letters of support for elder parole bill, HB 2045, to governor, lieutenant governor, and legislative leaders in Springfield on March 6, 2024
 

CHICAGO (March 4, 2024) - Advocates for the passage of HB 2045, which would establish an elder parole process in Illinois, plan to hand deliver more than 900 signed letters of support for the bill to the Springfield offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and legislative leaders on March 6, 2024.

The elder parole bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-27th), would provide a parole process for approximately 1,000 people in Illinois prisons who are aged 55 years or older and have served at least 25 years.

The letters come from people across the State of Illinois and beyond, including people incarcerated in Illinois prisons. Most of the letters make the following points in support of enactment of the bill:

• The Illinois prison population has been steadily aging.

• Older inmates are often sick and infirm.

• Illinois is not providing the medical care that is needed by these aging inmates.

• A court-appointed monitor has identified elder abuse in Illinois prisons where preventable deaths have occurred due to the state’s failure to provide proper medical care.

• The medical care that is being provided is very costly to the state and the cost will only worsen as more inmates age.

• The Joe Coleman Medical Release Act is not solving the problem because too few people are sick enough to qualify and many of those who qualify are being denied release.

• Many older inmates have maintained close ties to their friends and families, who will support them in transitioning to life outside prison.

Under the bill, no one would be entitled to release, but rather eligible people would be given the opportunity to present their individual circumstances to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board and request release.

The bill requires the board to decide whether to grant parole based on several considerations, including rehabilitation, character references, participation in educational and work programs, and criminal and disciplinary history. The bill also provides that victims’ families would be notified and given the opportunity to participate in the parole hearing.

In 1978, Illinois abolished discretionary parole for those sentenced on or after Feb. 1, 1978. Since then, the growth in the prison population has far outpaced the increase in the state’s general population, and the percentage of the prison population 55 years or older has also increased significantly.

Dr. John Raba, the former medical director of Cermak Health Services, which provides health care at the Cook County Jail, is the court-appointed monitor in a class action where state officials have entered into a consent decree requiring that adequate medical care be provided in Illinois prisons. Dr. Raba has reported that the state is not meeting the needs of older prisoners and does not have the resources to provide such care.

According to Dr. Raba’s reports, the inadequate health care is resulting in elder abuse and avoidable deaths. Dr. Raba has recommended that a pathway to early release of prisoners be established. This bill would establish a reasonable pathway.

Rep. Slaughter has explained the need for this bill as follows: “This bill would establish a much needed mechanism for considering on an individual basis whether there is no longer any public interest to be served by continuing to imprison an individual who has aged and served significant time, because the individual has become rehabilitated, is not a threat to public safety, and neither the public nor the individual would benefit from that individual’s continued imprisonment. The
people covered by the bill are the least likely to re-offend and the most expensive to care for, given medical expenses and end-of-life care.”

Here are links to the text of most of the letters to be delivered and to a fact sheet for the bill:

Text of letter supporting enactment of HB 2045: https://bit.ly/3sd6aE9

Fact sheet for HB 2045: https://bit.ly/3P5jvph

 
 
 
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