At the June 18 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Britton co-sponsored Commissioner Brandon Johnson's Justice for Black Lives Resolution. After it was introduced, the Resolution was unanimously sent to the Criminal Justice Committee.
The Resolution examines the historic injustices that exist in the justice system. It formally recognizes the use of policing, criminalization, and incarceration as tools to marginalize communities of color and that these tools still permeate our present-day law enforcement systems. Wrongful convictions, unnecessary sentencing, and violence are only a sampling of the problems faced by Black and Brown residents when interacting with police and the current justice system.
The Justice for Black Lives Resolution acknowledges these inequities and seeks to invest additional resources in Black and Brown communities most impacted by violence and incarceration. These areas of investment include:
1. Housing: According to the 2019 State of Rental Housing in Cook County, 50% of renter households in Cook County are paying unaffordable housing costs. Cook County, through the Bureau of Economic Development and the Housing Authority of Cook County, should explore opportunities to expand the availability of high-quality affordable housing and strengthen pathways for homeownership in communities of color to build wealth.
2. Health Care: In this global pandemic, the same communities of color harmed by police violence and incarceration are also bearing the brunt of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Cook County through Cook County Health shall increase funding for health care and further concentrate its health care offerings in communities of color.
3. Mental Health: Cook County should expand mental health inpatient/outpatient care including for individuals leaving incarceration and ensure that first responders for people in mental health crises are mental health professionals and not the police.
4. Restorative Justice: Cook County will guard against the militarization of local police and will instead invest in public safety that promotes restorative justice practices. The County should invest additional resources in restorative justice programs that restore harm done to survivors of crime and violence and engage in community accountability with people who do harm to others rather than just punishing people.
5. Job Creation: Cook County, through the Bureau of Economic Development and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, should use additional resources to maintain a living wage and create or encourage public-sector and private-sector employment opportunities for people in communities of color.
6. Public Transit: Cook County, through the Bureau of Economic Development and the Department of Transportation and Highways, shall continue to work with transit partners to advocate for the expansion of spending on public transit in communities of color and low-income communities.
7. Eviction/Foreclosure: Cook County shall work with the State and legal advocates to ensure those facing evictions and mortgage foreclosures have ready access to high-quality legal assistance.
8. Increase M/WBE Opportunity: Cook County Government, through the Office of Contract Compliance and in close collaboration with all of its departments, shall endeavor to improve its operations, review its procurement strategies and streamline its payment processes to facilitate increased participation by certified MBE and WBE firms on Cook County and Cook County Health contracts. The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer shall modernize its solicitation processes and evaluate bid incentive options for local businesses, including MBE and WBE firms, owned and operated by public school graduates located within Cook County. Where the Office of Contract Compliance and the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer assess monetary penalties against vendors who fail to meet MBE and/or WBE commitments, all monetary penalties shall be designated to a special purpose fund for the purpose of assisting MBE and WBE businesses