On the Issues
As a prosecutor, state senator and in private practice, Kwame Raoul has established a strong reputation as a leader and a consensus builder. Please explore the topics below to learn more about Kwame and why he is the best candidate to be Attorney General for the people of Illinois.
Fighting Gun Violence
The gun violence epidemic facing Chicago needs to be dealt with head on. Kwame has worked hard in the legislature to strengthen penalties against gun offenders and gun traffickers and to create sentencing guidelines that make sense to keep the criminals off the street.
As a former Cook County State’s Attorney, Kwame Raoul prosecuted offenders to the fullest extent of the law and as our next Attorney General, Kwame will continue to pursue strict penalties against criminals that use guns to terrorize our neighborhoods and communities.
In the legislature, Kwame sponsored and passed important common-sense laws to help curb gun crimes in Illinois. He passed a law that holds adults accountable if they illegally sell firearms to minors for any gun offenses committed by those youths. Kwame also supported and passed:
- The Gun Safety Responsibility Act, which requires FOID card verifications in private sales and requires reporting of lost and stolen firearms.
- Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act, which provided judges with additional power to keep criminals with a record of multiple gun offenses off of the streets.
- Legislation requiring background checks for gun sales and transfers at gun shows.
- Stricter penalties for the unlawful purchase of a firearm.
- A new firearms trafficking law that imposes a state penalty for straw purchasers that flood our streets with illegal firearms.
Although tough gun laws help, Kwame acknowledges that this problem cannot be written away through legislation and instituting the harshest penalties against offenders will not solve this problem alone.
Investing in areas struggling the most with crime and violence is critical to stopping the culture of violence. Investing in neighborhood schools and providing job opportunities that offer alternatives to a life in the street are critical to addressing these problems. Kwame will make sure first-time offenders have a chance to get the help they need – job training and education programs – to open the doors of opportunity and lower recidivism rates.
In the General Assembly, he fought against Governor Rauner’s irresponsible cuts to mental health because untreated trauma can lead a victim to become a perpetrator.
Victim’s rights are of critical importance to Kwame. He has passed new laws helping to protect victims of domestic violence from liabilities due to early lease termination with landlords when they must escape harmful living environments. He also was a proponent of increasing monitoring of those that violate restraining orders and additional protections for victims of sexual abuse.
Kwame also firmly believes that being Attorney General is more work than just being the Illinois’ prosecutor-in-chief. The Attorney General also needs to be an advocate-in-chief for our state, and Kwame is committed to advocating for our communities, working with legislators, community leaders and state attorneys across our state to approach the epidemic of gun violence together to deliver real lasting results.
Protecting Healthcare and Voting Rights
At a time of unprecedented attacks by the Trump Administration on the essential values and rights cherished by the people of Illinois, Kwame is the experienced choice to stand in staunch defense of our state.
As a cancer survivor, Kwame knows the importance of affordable and accessible healthcare for all the people of Illinois. He has also been a chief sponsor of legislation to protect the voting rights of our citizens and a strong voice of opposition against attempts to suppress the votes of largely minority populations.
Defending healthcare access for all
Even before the broader availability of healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, envisioned and enacted by his predecessor representing the 13th District of the Illinois Senate – President Barack Obama, Kwame saw the potential for the new healthcare law to greatly improve the lives of the people in Illinois.
He championed the early expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has advocated for increased access to hospitals in underserved communities throughout his career. He passed laws requiring that hospitals provide adequate charitable care to residents without the means to pay for treatment and has defended the Affordable Care Act against attacks in Springfield and Washington D.C.
Kwame has passed legislation to expand the availability of drug treatment facilities, cancer treatment centers, and the access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care. He has pushed for more trauma recovery services in our communities inundated by gun violence, rather than demonizing the people afflicted by the ongoing crisis.
Kwame recognizes the opioid epidemic as a cause for intense concern and concrete action, rather than simple rhetoric from the White House.
In 2007, to help curb the deaths and destruction from drug abuse in Illinois, Kwame sponsored a bill that established penalties for the knowing manufacture, delivery or possession of fentanyl, a highly dangerous and addictive substance. He passed a stricter law for people who make and distribute heroin, including making sure they couldn’t get off on probation.
Kwame has taken definitive steps to oppose to Donald Trump and the GOP’s attempts to suppress voting rights in Illinois and disenfranchise minority communities. He joined the Attorney General and his fellow legislators in blocking the actions of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Since the committee was dissolved, Kwame has called on the Rauner Administration to stop wasting Illinois taxpayer dollars on Crosscheck, a flawed system with data security issues and potential racial bias.
Illinois has some of the strongest voter protections in the country thanks to Kwame’s work in the legislature. He was a leader in the passage of the Illinois Voting Rights Act as well as a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of all voters from having their voice and their rights taken away by discriminatory requirements and purging of voters.
Kwame has recently introduced legislation to end the state’s use of Crosscheck, which was pioneered by Trump Appointee and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Committed to Criminal Justice Reform
Kwame is committed to making common sense changes to the laws of Illinois to ensure equal access to justice for all the people of Illinois.
Although he has proudly served as a leader among the Democrats in the legislature, Kwame has a reputation of working across the aisle to get things done, especially criminal justice reform.
The bill that Kwame sponsored to eliminate the death penalty in our state was passed with bipartisan support in response to a rash of exonerations of death row inmates and serious questions about miscarriage of justice in the application of capital punishment in Illinois.
As a member and, more recently, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kwame has often reached across the aisle to balance the need to protect the rule of law, while preserving the presumption of innocence and ensuring that rights of victims.
These successes have included:
- Legislation requiring automatic certificates of innocence if a conviction has been vacated based on newly discovered evidence proving innocence.
- A law repealing and replacing criminal lineup and photo spread procedures with procedures to improve the reliability of eyewitness identifications and reduce false identifications.
- Requiring the collection of DNA from convicted individuals required to register as sex offenders but also the automatic expungement of DNA specimens from individuals whose arrests are dismissed or were acquitted.
- New rules allowing individuals who pled guilty to petition for post-conviction DNA testing.
Kwame’s role as the vice-chair of the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council (SPAC) and member of the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform has put him on the forefront of criminal justice reform in Illinois.
As Attorney General, Kwame will continue to tirelessly pursue policies that will lead to a safer more equitable justice system for all the citizens of Illinois.
Advocating for Women’s Rights
Kwame is a strong ally for women, championing the causes of equal pay, freedom of choice and protection from sexual harassment in the workplace throughout his legislative career.
Over his 13 years in the senate, Kwame has consistently earned the endorsement of Planned Parenthood for his advocacy on behalf of women in Illinois. He supported HB 40, which ensures access to safe and legal abortion regardless of income or health care coverage.
Kwame believes in equal protection under the law shouldn’t be denied based on gender. That is why he supports ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
He has supported and voted in favor of a legislation to protect women’s wages at work and safety at home, including:
- Partnering with Robin Kelly during her time in Springfield to pass the the Safe Homes Act, which allows victims of domestic violence to change the locks to keep attackers out of their homes and even to relocate to protect their physical safety without penalties from landlords.
- Supporting The Equal Wage Act as a co-sponsor, which was vetoed by Gov. Rauner, but aimed at reducing the gender pay gap by stopping wage discrimination based on wage history.
- Introducing legislation to create a “Workforce Protection Unit” that would protect women and all Illinoisans from unscrupulous employers that break prevailing wage, minimum wage, employee classification and other wage theft laws.
As Co-Chair of the Special Committee on State and Pension Fund Investments, Kwame has made sure women owned businesses are included in the state pension funds investments.
Kwame believes that it is paramount to make sure that anybody who is victimized or feels victimized by sexual misconduct is protected. Those impacted must feel comfortable enough to come forward and if they have been harassed or treated unfairly. As an experienced litigator he feels that if there is ever a false allegation a through and just examination will bare themselves out but that the plight of victims in these cases are the priority.
Fighting Government Corruption
Kwame is committed to enforcing strict penalties for officials that betray the public trust and shedding more light into the halls of power to root out wrong deeds.
Sunlight it always the best disinfectant for government corruption and Kwame is committed to illuminating public information across the state. By increasing transparency and granting greater access to freedom of information, he has worked hard to try and cure the plague of public corruption that has too often infected Illinois.
Kwame has proposed increasing the resources of the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General’s office to ensure timely and robust responses to Freedom of Information Act requests in Illinois.
He believes the Attorney General must, within their power, pursue any public integrity issue that is brought to their attention, in collaboration with local and federal authorities and pursue it to the extent of the law. In response to the most egregious betrayals of the public trust, such as the torture committed by the John Burge administration at the Chicago Police Department, Kwame has insisted on a full public vetting and reconciliation for violated citizens.
Kwame was the chief sponsor of legislation creating the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission to investigate Burge’s crimes. As it became clear that the violations went beyond just Burge, he advanced legislation to expand the scope of the torture inquiry to all of Cook County.
Since then, Kwame has proposed creating stricter laws regarding extortion to protect the people of Illinois.
Standing with Labor and Protecting Workers
Championing the cause of organized labor and pursuing laws to protect all the workers in our state has been central to Kwame’s career.
The Attorney General should have the power to go directly after businesses accused of breaking prevailing wage, minimum wage, employee classification, and wage theft laws. That is why Kwame has introduced a bill to create a “Workplace Protection Unit” in the Attorney General’s office. Through this new enforcement resource, rogue employers would be held accountable for workplace abuses.
Kwame believes that no one who works a full-time job should live in poverty. That is why he he’s been a strong advocate for raising the minimum wage to help working families all across Illinois. He’s also worked to fight for wage security and health insurance for caretakers that work with seniors.
Illinois’ flat tax structure places an unfair burden working class families. Kwame supports moving our state to a progressive income tax structure, which encourages the rich to pay their fair share and protect the hard earned dollars of middle class and low-income families.
In 2009, Kwame supported the state’s first major capital bill in a decade to create jobs and invest in important construction projects across Illinois. He continues to advocate for a new capital bill to keep improving the state’s critical infrastructure while providing good paying jobs for the people of Illinois.