CARBONDALE — The man chosen to replace President Barack Obama in the statehouse more than a decade ago is now facing off against Republican candidate Erika Harold for Illinois attorney general.
CARBONDALE — Erika Harold isn’t an average Republican.
In a meeting with The Southern’s editorial board last month, Kwame Raoul recalled advice Obama gave him when he first took his post in the state Senate. Obama told him that if he wanted to be productive, he had to learn about all the different parts of the state — a lesson he said he has taken to heart.
Raoul said he disagrees with Harold’s notion that the position of attorney general is simply following the law. He said the “attorney general is more than just the state’s lawyer.” He said it also is an “office of advocacy.”
If elected attorney general, Raoul said he would use his “bully pulpit” to advocate for myriad issues that he believes are important to those in the state, namely prison and criminal justice reform. In this, he credited Gov. Bruce Rauner for creating a criminal justice sentencing reform committee.
“We’ve bastardized our criminal code,” Raoul said of the state’s sentencing guidelines. He said the department of corrections has lost its way.
“We don’t call it the department of housing criminals,” Raoul said. He explained that there needs to be more correcting behavior and providing of skills for those returning to the world from prison. However, he also said there needs to be a big focus on community correction. So often people focus on reentry “they forget about entry,” Raoul told the editorial board.
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Raoul also touched on other hot-button issues such as legalization of marijuana. He said that it was not a matter of if it would be legalized, but “how.” He said the important thing about legalization is regulation, adding that it is “beneficial” to have examples of successful states who have legalized it, like Colorado.
This also tied into his push for criminal justice reform. Raoul explained that if there are fewer petty offenders going away for drugs, it would reduce prison populations and improve programming.
Raoul also said that the position of attorney general is one that should be above politics. He said in his time in the General Assembly, he has demonstrated an ability to reach across the aisle.
The race for attorney general will be decided in November’s election.
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September 9, 2018 at 09:06AM