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Rauner tours Lincoln prison, touts reforms helping female inmates

Illinois+Gov.+Bruce+Rauner+speaks+with+members+of+the+media+Friday%2C+Aug.+26%2C+2016%2C+following+his+visit+to+Carbondale+High+School%27s+Rebound+program.+%28Ryan+Michalesko+%7C+%40photosbylesko%29
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with members of the media Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, following his visit to Carbondale High School's Rebound program. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with members of the media Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, following his visit to Carbondale High School's Rebound program. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Ryan Michalesko

Ryan Michalesko

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with members of the media Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, following his visit to Carbondale High School's Rebound program. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

Gov. Bruce Rauner toured Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln Tuesday morning before signing legislation to solidify the creation of a women’s division within the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The governor said the reforms, which seek to create female-specific programs and address the unique challenges that female offenders face, have set a new national standard for criminal justice reform.

“Today is a really good step forward for the people of Illinois as we restore justice into our corrections system,” Rauner said. “Everyone makes a mistake in life. Everyone deserves a second chance in life. And we need to do everything we can to help those who had an error in their ways, but who have served their time, come back and live productive lives.”

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The legislation Rauner signed will allow Corrections director John Baldwin to appoint a director of the new women’s division, which was created by a larger reform package that was signed into law with bipartisan support in September.

Corrections officials said the changes will give female prisoners, an often-overlooked group, the attention they deserve.

“Women serve time differently than men,” Baldwin said. “We have taken that reality and changed everything we are doing and we are going to make more changes. We need better outcomes.”

While often locking heads with General Assembly, including for a more than a two-year budget standoff, criminal justice has been an area where Rauner has been able to find support on both sides of the aisle.

In fact, the chief sponsor of the legislation is state Rep. Juliana Stratton, who is Democrat J.B. Pritzker’s running mate in the race to defeat Rauner.

“I commend my colleagues and the administration for coming together in such a bipartisan manner on behalf of this long overlooked population, which disproportionately impacts communities of color, and hope they will continue to be supportive throughout the implementation process,” Stratton said in a press release.

Some of the efforts will include group therapy, classes and job training programs, all things Rauner hopes will reduce the recidivism rate and ultimately the state’s prison population.

“Corrections shouldn’t be just about punishment. It should be about helping people recover and learn and grow as a person and then lead productive livings after serving,” Rauner said.

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