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July 12, 2001

Governor Ryan Signs Zero Tolerance Drug Law for Corrections, State Police Officers

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today signed Senate Bill 1032 making zero tolerance of drug abuse by State Police and Corrections Officers the law in Illinois. Senate Bill 1032 makes the current policy and procedures of the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Corrections law, and ensures zero tolerance of drug abuse remains the official policy of Illinois for public safety employees in the future.

"Drugs hamper a person's ability to think clearly and act appropriately," Governor Ryan said. "We owe State Troopers and Corrections Officers who protect us the peace-of-mind this law provides."

The measure places into law Governor Ryan's initiative of insisting zero tolerance as a part of contract negotiations between AFSCME and the Department of Corrections. It was proposed by legislators concerned for the safety and security of law-abiding officers working side-by-side with others hampered by the influence of drugs. The law allows State Police and Corrections Officers to be fired with the first positive drug test recorded in random testing sweeps.

"It's common sense," said State Police Director Sam Nolen. "This law provides the assurance that officers working together, and that are reliant upon each other, are thinking clearly and ready to protect the public and defend one another."

Illinois Department of Corrections Director Donald N. Snyder Jr., highlighted the improved safety for prison employees and inmates provided in the new law.

"Drugs and prisons are like gasoline and matches. I can't think of a more dangerous combination for staff to face," said Director Snyder. "Before this law, staff were allowed one too many opportunities to continue their employment after a positive drug test. This opened the door for staff to be compromised by observant and manipulative inmates."

"The State Police and Department of Corrections are committed to ensuring the safety of the public, officers and inmates," Governor Ryan said. "This is a step that is long overdue, one impaired officer is one too many."

The Ryan administration has been committed to reforming the state prison and parole system since the first day in office. A zero tolerance policy for drug use by any Corrections employee is one more step to a safer, more accountable system of justice in Illinois.

Senate Bill 1032 was sponsored by Senate President James "Pate" Philip, R-Wood Dale, and Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan, D-Chicago.


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