NEW STATE LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS COOK COUNTY’S DISTRESSED COMMUNITIES
Thursday, August 28, 2014
—The Cook County Sheriff's Office will gain greater ability to restore communities and provide housing for the mentally ill after legislation championed by Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart was signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn.
House Bill 4113 allows county sheriffs throughout the State of Illinois to enter into contracts to develop inmate job training programs aimed at rehabbing houses into transitional housing for the mentally ill, homeless and low income citizens. The law previously authorized only the Illinois Department of Corrections to enter into such contracts and didn't include transitional housing for the mentally ill.
"This legislation will allow us to take our innovative work to the next level, working to rehabilitate homes and inmates and provide housing to those in need," said Sheriff Dart. "I want to thank State Rep. Fran Hurley and State Sen. Bill Cunningham for their legislative leadership in ushering this bill through the General Assembly."
Sheriff Dart strongly advocated for this legislation to complement the office's new community restoration initiative, which teaches detainees how to deconstruct houses. The initiative has led to the deconstruction of abandoned houses throughout Cook County. There are more than 50,000 vacant properties in Cook County alone, which drain property values and become safety hazards.
The new law will allow the Sheriff’s Office to expand this effort to help communities by also rehabilitating homes and providing much needed transitional housing for the mentally ill, homeless and low income citizens, helping to further reduce crime and incarceration rates.
The legislation cleared the state House and Senate earlier this year with no dissenting votes and was supported by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association, the Catholic Conference of Illinois and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.