The ACLU of Illinois is part of a nationwide movement engaged in fighting against mass incarceration. In 2014, we actively advocated in the legislature for changes in Illinois sentencing policies that could reduce our state's over-reliance on incarceration. We proposed, for example, raising the monetary threshold for some property crimes, exposing fewer individuals to prison sentences for such crimes. And, we are pushing hard to change Illinois' outdated marijuana laws, which in the estimate of a National ACLU report costs Illinois up to $250 million each year to administer. It is time to reduce penalties for simple possession of marijuana and other drugs.
We also are working to improve conditions for those already incarcerated. This year we joined litigation that challenges the quality of health care provided to persons held in Illinois prisons. In one instance we learned of an inmate denied health care after complaining of a headache, which was later diagnosed as a brain tumor.
The ACLU of Illinois also is working to modernize and improve conditions at the state's juvenile justice detention centers. We have reached an historic agreement with the State to improve education, health care and physical conditions at these centers, to bring them up to constitutionally-required standards. In the end, the State may need to reduce the number of youth detained in these centers in order to insure that adequate care can be provided.
Finally, we are continuing our work at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, one of the nation's largest juvenile detention facilities. We continue to work with all involved parties as part of the process to move control of the facility from a court-ordered Transitional Administrator to the Chief Judge of Cook County. While some problems still remain to be resolved, the facility has been greatly improved during the past few years of our litigation.