Of Counsel and Illinois State Sen. Elgie Sims Jr. was presented the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award at the association’s 20th Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference.
The award recognizes an individual or a group whose tremendous efforts have led toward progressive reform of a state criminal justice system.
Sims was recognized for his role in ushering in passage of the 2021 Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, also known as the Criminal Justice Reform Omnibus, which contains long-awaited comprehensive public safety reforms, including ending cash bail and reforming the pretrial system, policing reform, sentencing and prison reform, and victim service reform.
The act makes Illinois a national leader in public safety reforms and begins the process of addressing and untangling decades of racist, ineffective criminal legal system policies, the NACDL says, in addition to making communities left behind by the criminal legal system safer.
Sims was elected to the Illinois Legislature in 2012, serving in the state House from 2012 to 2018 before becoming a state senator. He has become a leading voice of the movement through his work to address the numerous problems that plague our criminal justice system. This year, he introduced legislation to reduce penalties for drug and theft convictions, to let people finish the end of their sentences at home, and to ensure people who have been exonerated receive fair and just compensation.