Sen. Kirk pressured to support criminal justice reform bill

Illinois civil rights and faith leaders are pushing Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkBiden's relationship with 'Joe-Joe' Manchin hits the rocks Let's fix America's accounting problem — starting with Build Back Better Duckworth announces reelection bid MORE (R) to support the criminal justice reform bill that passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee in October.

Kirk, who is facing a tough reelection race this year in blue-leaning Illinois, has not backed a reform bill from Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyBig Tech critics launch new project Senate antitrust bill has serious ramifications for consumers and small businesses Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (R-Iowa) that has bipartisan support. The legislation would reduce certain mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes.

Rabbi Seth Limmer, of the Chicago Sinai Congregation, said the bill would throw away some aspects of the criminal justice system that are no longer effective and help push the nation forward to a day when justice is more evenly distributed.

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He said the legislation comes at a time when racial justice is at the forefront of citizen’s minds.

Chicago made headlines last year after video footage was released of a city police officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with murder after he allegedly fired 16 rounds during the confrontation on Chicago’s South side.

In a call with reporters Thursday, Limmer said “mercy, redemption and rehabilitation are just as much part of a just society as punishment.”

Judith Roberts, program director for racial justice ministries at Chicago’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said most non-violent drug offenses are the result of addiction.

“We need to seek alternatives, such a diversion programs, not just lock people up,” she said.