Prosecutorial oversight & felony disenfranchisement reforms, New York & Illinois | 2018

Two reform bills meet different fates

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed sweeping legislation that creates the country’s only independent commission empowered to investigate prosecutorial misconduct. The bill passed on a bipartisan basis but it has been fiercely opposed by New York’s District Attorneys Association, which says that it will file a lawsuitagainst it. Nina Morrison, an attorney with the Innocence Project in New York,explains in the New York Times that this reform responds to “the system’s egregious failure to hold a rogue prosecutor accountable.”

In Illinois, however, Governor Bruce Rauner blocked a bill that instructed public officials to inform people about how their interactions with the criminal justice system affects their voting rights. Sam Levine explains in HuffPost that “people detained in jails often have no idea they are eligible to vote, let alone how to request a ballot to do so. … Offenders, as well as parole officers and other corrections officials, can easily be confused about who has the right to vote.” Rauner specifically objected to the requirement that people released from incarceration be given voter registration forms.

published Aug. 23, 2018 | Daniel Nichanian