FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 08, 2023
Contact: Emma Bittner
(972) 510-3395 | Emma.Bittner@younginvincibles.org
Illinois Signs Young Advocate Informed Bill, HB 1119, Into Law
(Springfield, IL) – This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1119 into law, which amends the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) membership to include two individuals who report having been incarcerated.
This legislation comes directly from recommendations from Young Invincibles’ Young Advocates Program (YAP) Fall 2022 alumni Adella Bass-Lawson, CeCe Kilgore, and Cenia Villasenor. Since 2019, Young Invincibles Midwest has been training young adults ages 18-34 in Illinois on advocacy and leadership through YAP, a 12-week, paid advocacy training program. At the end of the program, Young Advocates collaborate, draft and present a policy proposal to a panel of legislators and advocacy leaders employing their honed skills.
The group initially created and pitched a policy proposal focused on addressing high suicide rates in Illinois prisons. The Advocates recognized that people who would be the best to address the issue are the previously incarcerated, whose lived experiences are invaluable in crafting policy solutions. Residents with lived experience in the Illinois criminal justices system are disproportionately Black and Latinx men.
The policy idea was drafted into a bill by State Representative Will Guzzardi, who, in conjunction with the advocates, worked to ensure those most impacted will have a voice in decision making.
Seeing young adult-written policy being signed into law and implemented is monumental. This is the first time a policy pitch from the Midwest Young Advocates Program has been passed by both chambers in Illinois and signed by the Governor. Young Invincibles is honored to have guided the young women in their law-writing journey and worked with State Representative Guizzardi to make this policy a reality.
In response, CeCe Kilgore, Bill Inspiration and Young Advocates Program Alumni said:
“The passing of HB 1119 changes the trajectory and outcome for incarcerated individuals and our community at large. This is a tremendous win for all of us and amplifies the true meaning of civic engagement.”
In response, Cenia Villasenor, Bill Inspiration and Young Advocates Program Alumni said:
“The criminal justice system in the United States has a long way to go in order to truly be just. My team and I made mental health the center of our policy and with that in mind bill HB 1119 was born. For me to see this bill come to fruition and become law demonstrates the power of advocacy. I want to thank my team, Adella and Cece, for the hours we poured into crafting this idea. I would also like to thank Will Guzzardi and his team for their support and for believing in our mission: representation and opportunity to the formerly incarcerated. Thank you.”
In response, Adella Bass-Lawson, Bill Inspiration and Young Advocates Program Alumni from Young Invincibles said:
“Hearing that HB 1119 is now a law is such incredible news. I am so grateful to be able to bring change. I am also thankful to be able to speak and give a voice to others. It is so vital for incarcerated people to have equal and fair treatment. It is an honor to work with like-minded people to see our vision come to life! Thank you [to the] Representative, for all your help and support!”
In response, Hannah Keller, Midwest Policy Manager at Young Invincibles said:
“We must always listen to the voices of those closest to an issue if we want to make positive change. Seeing recommendations from our Young Advocates pass both chambers and be signed into law is monumental. We were so excited to see young adult voices represented in this session and our recommendations be implemented.
HB 1119 will be critical in providing important perspectives for policymakers from those in the Illinois criminal justice system, especially Black and Latinx individuals who are disproportionately impacted, as well as addressing inmates’ mental health.
We are proud of the advocates who brought this bill to life and to see this piece of legislation become law. Young Invincibles will continue to bring young adults into the political process and have their voices heard.”
Young Invincibles (YI) is a national advocacy and policy nonprofit organization focused on amplifying the voice of young people in the political process at the local, state, and federal levels. YI focuses on issues impacting young adults ages 18 to 34 in higher education, health care, economic security, and civic engagement. Our offices include Washington, D.C., California, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and Texas. For more information, please contact Emma Bittner at (972) 510-3395 or firstname.lastname@example.org