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Criminal Justice Advocates Like Rauner Choices

Criminal justice advocates are cheering Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner. They say his appointment of John Maki to head the Criminal Justice Information Authority and his decision to keep the current Juvenile Justice director are great signs.

Prison reformer John Maki, Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, will use his new position as head of the state’s Criminal Justice Information Authority to evaluate the state’s criminal justice systems and allocate grants.

Last year the authority’s budget was about $150 million.

More than half of that came from the federal government -- but Illinois Justice Project Director Paula Wolff says Illinois could be getting a lot more.

“We’ve not been all that good at getting or spending the federal money we’ve been due to improve our criminal justice system, and that shouldn’t be that hard,” she said. “I think John’s really up to the task.”

Juvenile justice reformers also are cheering one change the new governor isn’t making.

In his first wave of appointments Rauner also announced Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice Director Candice Jones is sticking around.

Candice Jones

Retired Judge George Timberlake is chair of the state’s Juvenile Justice Commission:

“She has that department moving in great ways since she’s been appointed,” Timberlake said, “and her skills, her commitment, her knowledge … she has proven herself in that job

Jones was appointed to head the troubled department in January 2014 by former Gov. Pat Quinn.

Wolff says the appointment of Maki, and the decision to keep Jones make her optimistic.

“This is a signal that we’re willing to face up to the things that we don’t do as well as we should and figuring out how to improve them,” Wolff said.