In an attempt to encourage bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, members of First Church Circles of Support are meeting with Republican legislators in the Senate and Assembly asking them to sponsor a bill to authorize and fund-collecting data from the Department of Corrections, the courts, district attorneys and law enforcement state-wide, using a standard set of definitions. Our criminal justice system collects a lot of data, but it is kept in stakeholders’ silos. This bill will help legislators make better decisions.
Getting a big bill like this passed is a daunting task. A bill has to have a sponsor in both the Senate and Assembly, get a committee hearing in both branches, be passed by the appropriate committees, and get a hearing before the Joint Finance Committee which then has to pass it and put it in the budget. The bill has to be in the final budget that is passed by the Senate and Assembly and then signed by Gov. Evers.
We started requesting Zoom meetings with Republican legislators in early December, had our first meeting in early January, and are now having Zoom meetings with legislators weekly.
Please let me know if you are willing to be part of the First Church Circles of Support team and join one or two of these Zoom meetings with legislators.
You may feel unsure about joining, as the first view, the benefit of this bill is not readily apparent, but advocates for criminal justice reform believe that sharing a uniform set of data about current practices is an important first step. Your presence will be meaningful to the legislative staff members we talk with, and we will need a lot of help over the next five months to get this bill passed.
by Paul Geenen, Circles of Support Leader