The day before Illinois’s legal marijuana sales began earlier this year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) pardoned thousands of people who had previously been convicted of cannabis possession. On Tuesday, he said that more acts of cannabis clemency are on the way and that he is pushing more broadly for “decriminalizing minor non-violent offenses” and instituting “a public health approach” to drugs.
“Through the law legalizing cannabis, Governor Pritzker has already pardoned over 11,000 individuals for low-level cannabis offenses, and more are expected over the coming months,” his office said. “Through these pardons, thousands of families are no longer prohibited from having access to human services, financial aid for school, professional licensing, jobs, and housing.”
The announcement came at the end of a press release on steps the governor’s administration is planning to take to foster a “more equitable criminal justice system.”
“We’re building toward an Illinois that works for everyone—and criminal justice reform is a key element of that holistic approach. Together we will shape a more equitable system of justice that makes our state stronger and safer and expands opportunities for all our residents to improve their lives,” Pritzker said. “At the state level alone, we spend billions of dollars a year keeping too many people in an overcrowded prison system that has proven itself too expensive, too punitive and wholly ineffective at keeping Illinois families safe.”
“As we move forward with the General Assembly to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform, it is my hope that the nation will look to Illinois as a leader in true equity and justice for generations to come,” he said.
Through these principles, we will address the structural flaws of a criminal justice system that has demonstrated itself to be too expensive, too punitive, and too ineffective at keeping ALL families safe.