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Justice Reform & Police Accountability

blind-justiceFor decades, BPI has worked to strengthen neighborhoods around Chicago and throughout the region.  This experience has led us to one inescapable conclusion:  Our criminal justice system plays a significant role in the health and well-being of our communities and the individuals who live in them.  Unfortunately, our justice system is deeply flawed and in need of urgent reform.  


In 2016, BPI served on the Legal Oversight and Accountability Working Group of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, and was active in the effort to enact two vital structural reforms.. Currently, BPI is working with a coalition of 10 community organizations from across the city to develop a meaningful community-driven engagement process to help begin to build trust between the community and the police department and to ensure that any reforms that move forward are informed by those most affected by policing in the city.

Learn more about BPI’s police accountability work.


BPI’s overarching goals in the criminal justice arena are to reduce prison and jail populations in Illinois’ juvenile and adult systems, reduce recidivism, and increase educational, housing and employment opportunities for released prisoners. Current initiatives include:

  • Cash Bail: Eliminating the cash bail system that discriminates against low-income individuals with devastating consequences.
  • Sentencing Reform: Enacting more informed sentencing policies to reduce the prison population.
  • Prisoner Reintegration: Developing an innovative prisoner reintegration program with the potential to speed the release of thousands of prisoners and decrease the likelihood of their return to prison.
  • State IDs: Helping incarcerated youth and adults leave confinement in possession of an official state ID, a prerequisite to finding housing, securing a job, enrolling in school, or applying for public benefits and health insurance.
  • Juvenile Justice Reform: Reducing the youth prison population, while expanding and improving community-based housing, health and supportive services.


October 2016:  The Mayor and Chicago City Council approves an ordinance creating two new stronger and better funded entities to investigate police misconduct:

  • A Civilian Office of Police Accountability
  • A Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety

April 2016:  The Mayor’s Police Accountability Task Force produces a series of hard-hitting recommendations to reform a badly broken system.

February 2016:  State legislators approve the closure of the Kewanee Youth Detention Center as the number of youth in prison drops.

2014:  BPI partners with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) to craft a comprehensive operating plan designed to:

  • Reduce the number of imprisoned youth
  • Ensure that higher-risk youth receive intensive and comprehensive services
  • Provide better support services when youth return to their communities.


Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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