Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has softened her stance on former President Ronald Reagan Tuesday.
Preckwinkle was speaking at a conference at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign when she told the audience that former President Ronald Reagan deserves “a special place in hell” for his role in the war on drugs, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Preckwinkle has apologized for her statement, saying she regretted her comment. She said it is "too complicated to lay all of it out on President Reagan’s doorstep and inflammatory language only distracts from the larger issue."
Preckwinkle made the initial statement in response to a questionfrom Republican state Rep. Chapin Rose about whether drug users are more likely to get treatment within the penal system.
Preckwinkle has been the staunchest proponent of Chicago's efforts to decriminalize drug laws because they disproportionately affect minorities.
At a Chicago rally last year, Preckwinkle denounced the war on drugs as a failure, saying that for each white person incarcerated for drug offenses, eight African-American men are incarcerated, but didn't go so far as to mention Reagan or Richard Nixon -- who started the campaign -- by name.
Chicago's new drug policy went into effect this month, giving police officers the option to issue $250 to $500 tickets, officially called administrative notices of ordinance violations, for possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less.
County Commissioner Timothy Schneider told the Tribune that Reagan was "one of the most revered presidents of the 20th century" and took issue with Preckwinkle's "unfortunate choice of words."