Bill Text: IL HB2541 | 2019-2020 | 101st General Assembly | Enrolled


Bill Title: Creates the Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act. Provides that the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice shall provide a nonpartisan peer-led civics program throughout the correctional institutions of the State to teach civics to soon-to-be released citizens who will be re-entering society. Provides for the curriculum and eligibility for the program. Provides that the program shall be taught by peer educators who are citizens incarcerated in the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and specially trained by experienced peer educators and established nonpartisan civic organizations. Provides that the nonpartisan civic organizations shall provide adequate training to peer educators on matters including, but not limited to, voting rights, governmental institutions, current affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and democratic processes, and shall provide periodic updates to program content and to peer educators. Provides that the Department of Corrections shall adopt rules to carry out the Act within 6 months after the effective date of the Act. Provides that the funding for the voting rights and registration peer education program shall be subject to appropriation by the General Assembly. Contains provisions regarding funding for the program. Effective January 1, 2020.

Spectrum: Strong Partisan Bill (Democrat 46-4)

Status: (Enrolled) 2019-05-29 - Passed Both Houses [HB2541 Detail]

Download: Illinois-2019-HB2541-Enrolled.html



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1 AN ACT concerning criminal law.
2 Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4 Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Re-Entering Citizens Civics Education Act.
6 Section 5. Definitions. In this Act:
7 "Committed person" means a person committed to the
8Department.
9 "Commitment" means a judicially determined placement in
10the custody of the Department of Corrections or the Department
11of Juvenile Justice on the basis of conviction or delinquency.
12 "Correctional institution or facility" means a Department
13of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice building or
14part of a Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile
15Justice building where committed persons are detained in a
16secure manner.
17 "Department" includes the Department of Corrections and
18the Department of Juvenile Justice, unless the text solely
19specifies a particular Department.
20 "Detainee" means a committed person in the physical custody
21of the Department of Corrections or the Department of Juvenile
22Justice.
23 "Director" includes the Director of the Department of

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1Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice unless the
2text solely specifies a particular Director.
3 "Discharge" means the end of a sentence or the final
4termination of a detainee's physical commitment to and
5confinement in the Department of Corrections or Department of
6Juvenile Justice.
7 "Peer educator" means an incarcerated citizen who is
8specifically trained in voting rights education, who shall
9conduct voting and civics education workshops for detainees
10scheduled for discharge within 12 months.
11 "Program" means the nonpartisan peer education and
12information instruction established by this Act.
13 "Re-entering citizen" means any United States citizen who
14is: 17 years of age or older; in the physical custody of the
15Department of Corrections or Department of Juvenile Justice;
16and scheduled to be re-entering society within 12 months.
17 Section 10. Purpose; program. The Department of
18Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice shall
19provide a nonpartisan peer-led civics program throughout the
20correctional institutions of this State to teach civics to
21soon-to-be released citizens who will be re-entering society.
22The goal of the program is to promote the successful
23integration of re-entering citizens, promote democracy, and
24reduce rates of recidivism within this State. This program
25shall coincide with and enhance existing laws to ensure that

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1re-entering citizens understand their civic responsibility and
2know how to secure or regain their right to vote as part of the
3exit process.
4 Section 15. Curriculum and eligibility. The civics peer
5education program shall consist of a rigorous curriculum, and
6participants shall be instructed on subjects including, but not
7limited to, voting rights, governmental institutions, current
8affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and
9democratic processes. Each workshop shall consist of 3 sessions
10that are 90 minutes each and that do not need to be taken
11consecutively. The Department must offer re-entering citizens
12scheduled to be discharged within 12 months with the civics
13peer education program, and each re-entering citizen must
14enroll in the program one to 12 months prior to his or her
15expected date of release. This workshop must be included in the
16standard exit process. The Department should aim to include
17this workshop in conjunction with other pre-release procedures
18and movements. Delays in a workshop being provided shall not
19cause delays in discharge. Detainees may not be prevented from
20attending workshops due to staffing shortages, lockdowns, or to
21conflicts with family or legal visits, court dates, medical
22appointments, commissary visits, recreational sessions,
23dining, work, class, or bathing schedules. In case of conflict
24or staffing shortages, re-entering citizens must be given full
25opportunity to attend a workshop at a later time.

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1 Section 20. Peer educator training. The civics peer
2education program shall be taught by peer educators who are
3citizens incarcerated in Department of Corrections and
4Department of Juvenile Justice facilities and specially
5trained by experienced peer educators and established
6nonpartisan civic organizations. Established nonpartisan civic
7organizations may be assisted by area political science or
8civics educators at colleges, universities, and high schools
9and by nonpartisan organizations providing re-entry services.
10The nonpartisan civic organizations shall provide adequate
11training to peer educators on matters including, but not
12limited to, voting rights, governmental institutions, current
13affairs, and simulations of voter registration, election, and
14democratic processes, and shall provide periodic updates to
15program content and to peer educators.
16 Section 25. Voter and civic education program; content.
17 (a) Program content shall provide the following:
18 (1) nonpartisan information on voting history
19 procedures;
20 (2) nonpartisan definitions of local, State, and
21 federal governmental institutions and offices; and
22 (3) examples and simulations of registration and
23 voting processes.
24 (b) Established nonpartisan civic organizations shall

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1provide periodic updates to program content and, if applicable,
2peer educators. Updates shall reflect major relevant changes to
3election laws and processes in Illinois.
4 (c) Program content shall be delivered in the following
5manners:
6 (1) verbally via peer educators;
7 (2) broadcasts via Department of Corrections and
8 Department of Juvenile Justice internal television
9 channels; or
10 (3) printed information packets.
11 (d) Peer educators shall disseminate printed information
12for voting in the releasee's county, including, but not limited
13to, election authorities' addresses, all applicable Internet
14websites, and public contact information for all election
15authorities. This information shall be compiled into a civics
16handbook. The handbook shall also include key information
17condensed into a pocket information card.
18 (e) This information shall also be compiled electronically
19and posted on Department of Corrections' website along with the
20Department of Corrections' Community Support Advisory Councils
21websites.
22 (f) Department Directors shall ensure that the wardens or
23superintendents of all correctional institutions and
24facilities visibly post this information on all common areas of
25their respective institutions, and shall broadcast the same via
26in-house institutional information television channels.

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1Directors shall ensure that updated information is distributed
2in a timely, visible, and accessible manner.
3 (g) The Director of Corrections shall order, in a clearly
4visible area of each parole office within this State, the
5posting of a notice stipulating voter eligibility and that
6contains the current Internet website address and voter
7registration information provided by State Board of Elections
8regarding voting rights for citizens released from the custody
9of the Department.
10 (h) All program content and materials shall be distributed
11annually to the Community Support Advisory Councils of the
12Department of Corrections for use in re-entry programs across
13this State.
14 Section 30. Power of the Department. The Department of
15Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice shall adopt
16rules to carry out this Act within 6 months after the effective
17date of this Act.
18 Section 35. Funding. The funding for the voting rights and
19registration peer education program shall be subject to
20appropriation by the General Assembly. The Department may use
21private or federal funding to administer the program,
22including, but not limited to, funds from the United States
23Department of Justice.

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1 Section 40. Voter and civic education program monitoring
2and enforcement.
3 (a) The Director of Corrections and the Director of
4Juvenile Justice shall ensure that wardens or superintendents,
5program, educational, and security and movement staff permit
6these workshops to take place, and that re-entering citizens
7are escorted to workshops in a consistent and timely manner.
8 (b) Compliance with this Act shall be monitored by a report
9published annually by the Department of Corrections and the
10Department of Juvenile Justice and containing data, including
11numbers of re-entering citizens who enrolled in the program,
12numbers of re-entering citizens who completed the program, and
13total numbers of individuals discharged. Data shall be
14disaggregated by institution, discharge, or residence address
15of citizen, and other factors.
16 Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect on
17January 1, 2020.
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