Illinois Gov. Pritzker signs historical crime reform bill into law

By Jason Flynn, Staff Reporter

A bill that will make sweeping changes to the Illinois criminal justice system was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker Monday.

HB 3653 contains broad provisions, including ending the use of cash bail by 2023, making some classes of misdemeanor offenses ineligible for detention, setting statewide standards for police use of force, requiring the use of body cameras by police departments and changes to the law enforcement certification process, among other reforms.

(See more: Criminal justice reform bill could make Illinois first state to abolish cash bail)

Advertisement

“At the beginning of 2020 Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton and I outlined three criminal justice priorities for our administration: transforming the pretrial detention system so that low income people aren’t thrown behind bars, while only the wealthy walk free, diverting low level drug crimes into substance treatment programs and reducing excessive stays in prison,” Pritzker said at a press conference at Chicago State University following the signing. 

The bill was largely drafted over the course of the past year by the Coalition to End Money Bond and the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice, formed by a network of anti-poverty, civil rights and religious groups including Chicago Community Bond Fund, Illinois Justice Project, United Congregations of Metro East,  The Center for Empowerment and Justice, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, The People’s Lobby, ACLU of Illinois and others. 

“From Waukegan and Rockford to East St. Louis and Carbondale and everywhere in between, money bond has destabilized communities by caging people not because they pose a danger to the community but because of the size of their bank account. Ninety percent of people incarcerated in Illinois’ 92 county jails are awaiting trial, and a majority of them are incarcerated only because they can’t afford to pay a money bond. This destabilization has made our communities less safe, while claiming to be done in the name of “public safety’.” a joint press statement from the Coalition to End Money Bond and Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice said. 

The bill was shepherded through the Illinois General Assembly in January by the body’s Black caucus which made some adjustments to increase funding to police for training and removed a portion that would have ended qualified immunity for police officers in order to secure the final necessary votes. 

State Senator Elgie Sims said the reforms should be seen only as a first step  to ending mass oncarceration according to a press release.

 “This historic moment is the result of a monumental effort on the part of countless people, from those who testified during the 30 hours of public hearings on these issues, to those who have pushed for some of these reforms for years, and especially to the Illinoisans who signaled their support,” Sims said

(See more: Crime bill would end cash bail but could expand electronic monitoring abuses)

The bill was largely opposed by police unions, state prosecutors and republican assembly members. 

“I do not support the actions taken by our Governor today to enact a law that will make it harder for police officers to do their jobs,” Republican State Senator for the 59th District Dale Fowler said according to a press release.  “I stand in support of my local law enforcement officers and agencies who have vocally opposed this legislation.”

 

Staff reporter Jason Flynn can be reached at jflynn@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter at @dejasonflynn.

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Advertisement