Cook County Budget for Black Lives Invests in People not Punishment

Investing in people – not punishment – will make everyone safer.

Black and Latino/a/x people with low-income are overrepresented in the criminal legal system and therefore are disproportionately harmed by current police practices and criminalization. We advocate for divesting from this harmful system and investing those resources into communities and people. 

Investing in people – not punishment –  will make everyone safer.

In Cook County, Illinois during the height of the uprisings demanding justice for George Floyd and other Black people murdered by police, the Cook County Board of Commissioners voted for and passed the “Justice for Black Lives” resolutionThis resolution supports the idea of divesting from the county jail and reinvesting in marginalized communities.

We must prioritize investments and supports in communities that have been historically disenfranchised, so everyone has the opportunity to thrive. 

It is clear, continuing to invest in our criminal legal system to solve for the consequences of systemic inequities is failed policy and only further exacerbates the divides in our communities. In order for to fulfill the commitment in the resolution, there must be swift policy changes. 

Cook County has led landmark racial justice initiatives before. An important step now is an inclusive budget focused on reallocation and investment. By taking money away from the Cook County Jail, we can reduce harm and invest in the good jobs, mental health care, safe housing and resources that allow  communities to thrive.

The Shriver Center on Poverty Law endorses the Cook County Budget for Black Lives, a campaign to persuade county commissioners to divest $157 million from the Cook County Jail in order to reduce harm and reinvest that money in good jobs, mental health care, safe housing, restorative justice, anti-violence programs and other resources that allow Black, Latino/a/x, and low-income communities to thrive.

Unfortunately, President Preckwinkle’s budget only proposes to spend a small fraction of what we call for. County Commissioners should support the full budget and make a meaningful investment in the Black community. 

The campaign is organized by The People’s LobbySOUL – Southsiders Organized for Unity and LiberationChicago Community Bond FundNational Nurses United, and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. 

Watch this video about our campaign and contact your Cook County Commissioner and President Preckwinkle to urge them to adopt the Budget for Black Lives. 

More Information

People with criminal records face barriers to housing, employment, and other basic needs.

Fiscal policies should ensure that all communities can thrive.

To receive the latest news and information from the Shriver Center