CHICAGO –To explain how the SAFE-T Act works to make the criminal legal system more equitable, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) and State Senator Omar Aquino (D—Chicago) are holding a virtual town hall on Monday, Oct. 3.

“Before this law, the criminal legal system disproportionately favored folks with more money—which is not ’justice’ at all,” Pacione-Zayas said. “The SAFE-T Act will make sure offenders of serious crimes are not able to walk free just because they can afford bail, keeping our communities safer and creating more accountability for serious crimes.”

The SAFE-T Act Town Hall will be held Monday, October 3 from 6-7:30 p.m. over Zoom. To pre-register for the virtual town hall, click here.

Under current law, people who commit serious crimes, such as murder, rape, sex offenses or gun crimes, can use cash to pay for their release, while people charged with minor offenses who cannot afford cash bail have to sit in jail awaiting trial. This unfairly allows people with more financial resources to evade the consequences of their actions, while keeping people with less financial resources from going to work and caring for their families by holding them in jail.

To address these issues, the SAFE-T Act gives the judge the power to determine if a person charged with a crime will be held or released. When the Act goes into effect, judges will be able to hold someone they deem as “too dangerous” regardless of their ability to pay for bail. This change will make sure those accused of serious crimes are kept out of the community, no matter how much money they have, and people who are charged with minor offenses can be released if they do not pose a risk to others.

Additionally, this law takes the first steps to rectify the disproportionate negative impact of the current criminal legal system on people with low income. Under a cash bail system, people living in poverty who are charged with nonviolent crimes are held in jail before being convicted of the crime they were charged with. This means that people who are arrested and found innocent after a trial have to miss work, school, or other obligations that can negatively impact their financial status. Many may end up losing their jobs or living situations because of the money lost in this time period. Dissolving the cash bail system will give people who are accused of committing a nonviolent crime the opportunity to continue to earn money and support their family between the time of their arrest and their trial date, preventing folks from slipping further into poverty if they were unable to afford bail.    

"People deemed to be a danger to others or themselves will remain in jail if a judge decides so," Senator Aquino said. "The SAFE-T Act is not a tool for impunity, but it's a venue to stop the historical unfairness of keeping poor people in jail for not being able to "buy out" their freedom as wealthy people do in the current system. Senator Pacione-Zayas and I will happily explain this and any other concerns to our constituents in our virtual town hall meeting." 

Category: Press Releases

Pacione Zayas OpenHouse 100722CHICAGO –State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) is excited to open the doors to her District Office to members of her community for an open house on Oct. 7.

“The foundation of my work as a public servant is connecting with members of my community, and making sure their needs are represented in government,” Pacione-Zayas said. “I am ecstatic to meet with my constituents and hear about their concerns, as well as providing any assistance we can regarding issues with state agencies.”

Senator Pacione-Zayas’ open house will be held from 3-6 p.m at her district office, located at 3140 W. Montrose Ave.

The open house will provide members of the community with the opportunity to speak with the Senator about important government issues. Staff members will be available to help residents with issues they are having connecting with state agencies, or receiving state benefits such as unemployment. They will also have the chance to tour where the Senator and her staff get to work for their district, as well as make connections with other folks in the community who are passionate about government issues.

The event is co-sponsored by the Spanish Coalition for Housing, which is providing assistance with Universal Basic Income applications. This new program under the Cook County Pilot program may grant $500 monthly payments for two years to qualifying applicants. Senator Pacione-Zayas encourages her constituents to apply, and to attend the open house if they have questions.

“Spanish Coalition for Housing (SCH) values our collaboration with Senator Pacione-Zayas,” Joseph Lopez, SCH Executive Director said. “Our team is prepared to assist individuals and families throughout the district to learn about and apply to Cook County Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot Program.”


Category: Press Releases

puertoricanagendachicagophotoCHICAGO – State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas and State Senator Omar Aquino joined leaders this morning to demand a swift and meaningful response from the federal government to Hurricane Fiona and to call attention to the structural inequities that leave Puerto Rico vulnerable to catastrophic destruction in the aftermath of disasters fueled by climate change.

“The health and safety of Puerto Ricans cannot continue to be ignored by those with power to assign significant resources,” said Senator Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Five years after our pleas were ignored following Hurricane Maria, we cannot standby idly for the federal government to mobilize and act with urgency while our community is in crisis. Instead, we take action today to provide immediate relief to households in Puerto Rico, and to publicly demand that the government take concrete steps to for long-term recovery on the island to rebuild a more resilient Puerto Rico using sustainable energy sources.

On September 18, the entire island of Puerto Rico lost power when Hurricane Fiona hit, bringing violent winds, heavy rain, catastrophic flooding and landslides to the island. In many areas, rainfall and flooding greatly exceeded that of Hurricane Maria, causing many to lose everything. LUMA Energy, the main source of power on Puerto Rico, stated it will take days to get the power back up to all residents but unfortunately they have not provided consistent service since the beginning of their contract. This is deeply troubling for members of the Puerto Rican diaspora, as many folks on the island will not have access to food, water, basic sanitation needs, and their ability to connect to family or work for as long as they are without power.

The foundational needs of Puerto Ricans, such as power, clean water, or supplies, have historically been overlooked, leading to unnecessarily long periods of recovery. Whether preparing for, responding to, or disbursing funds to rebuild after a hurricane, the federal government has historically prolonged its initiatives to provide relief that is desperately needed and, in many cases, resulted in the loss of human life and widespread health and safety concerns for residents.

Hurricane Fiona has come at the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which added to the existing physical and economic devastation on the island. Despite immediate aid from the Puerto Rican Agenda, thousands of people in Puerto Rico have not yet recovered from Maria, living in damaged homes or under blue tarps. Remembering the difficulties they faced five years ago, many folks in Puerto Rico are fearful not only of their safety during the storm, but for the recovery period that will likely be drawn out unless there is a more efficient and prioritized federal response. 

“Myself and so many in my community are devastated as we see the damage and injuries facing Puerto Ricans,” said Aquino (D-Chicago). “Today, we are calling on government leaders to take a firm stand in support of Puerto Ricans, and to work with local community leaders on the next steps towards recovery and infrastructure repair.”

Today we stand with The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago in demanding an effective and prioritized response from the federal government that will not only provide immediate relief for residents, but also address the lingering structural, governmental obstacles that undermine Puerto Rico’s ability to recover and rebound from the adverse impact of climate change. For more information on their goals, click here.

Category: Press Releases

CHICAGO – On Wednesday night, a group of immigrants from Venezuela arrived in Chicago after they were “shipped out” on buses by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Regarding this matter, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) welcomes the newcomers, highlights local resources, and disavows Abbott’s decision to use human lives as political currency for personal gain.

“I am proud that my state, Illinois, and my city, Chicago, continue to be the most welcoming places in the nation to our immigrant siblings. We welcome the newcomers as we work to deploy resources to support them in both the immediate and long term.

“My community already took action. Chicago is the soul of our nation, a place built by the strength and contributions of people from all corners of the globe. A temporary shelter was staffed through the night by trusted partners including Rincon Family Services, Family Focus, and Onward Neighborhood House who support immigrants year-round through state funded Welcoming Centers. Many other local partners are mobilizing to ensure we can offer resources they need to settle and thrive in our community.

“Also, I condemn Abbott’s lack of humanity with his approach to immigration. Our actions and/or the lack thereof reflect upon one’s character. The Governor of Texas has clearly failed this test.

“Instead of using refugees as political pawns, our city and state choose to respond to our challenges with compassion and humanity, not cruelty. I commit to working with my colleagues to create opportunities for the new residents of Illinois ensuring prosperity is accessible to all people.”

Category: Press Releases

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