Illinois lawmakers pass Criminal Justice Reform Bill

Criminal Justice Reform Bill heads to Gov. Pritzker's desk

CARTERVILLE, IL. (KFVS) - During a Lame Duck Session, Illinois lawmakers in the House and Senate passed House Bill 3653 on Wednesday, January 13.

The Illinois Criminal Justice Reform Bill was authored by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to rid Illinois of what it calls systemic racism.

Elgie Sims, a Democrat Senator from Chicago’s southside, is among the 60 senators who voted in favor of the bill.

“I am gratified that the Senate has passed this major reform package, and I believe it is the first step to transforming criminal justice in Illinois in a way that will uplift our communities and support our law enforcement professionals,” said Sims.

Illinois down-state republican Senator Dale Fowler voted no on the bill.

“This bill is a dangerous proposal that makes it easier for offenders to commit violent crimes, eliminates cash bail and endangers the safety of our citizens,” said Fowler.

The bill would allow certain criminal offenders to be set free without waiting in jail for their court date, because they can’t afford bond.

It would also eliminate qualified immunity for individual police officers, prohibit police departments from purchasing certain militaristic equipment.

In a released statement, the Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition said the action legislators took “made Illinois less safe.”

The coalition believes HB3653 will tie the hands of police officers as they work to track down suspects and make arrests.

State Senator Elect Terri Bryant could not vote on the bill as she is being sworn in at the Capitol, but when she was a house member, Bryant led all the debates against the bill.

In a released statement, State Representative Patrick Windhorst said he voted no on the bill because he feels there wasn’t enough time to debate the proposal.

“My no vote reflects my opposition to a rushed process, a flawed final product, and my never-relenting support for the brave men and women that serve in law enforcement in the State of Illinois,” said Rep. Windhorst. “I am particularly disappointed in the process that resulted in this bill’s passage. This the wrong way to go about making public policy of any kind. Several technical issues and legal definitions remain unresolved in the omnibus bill. These errors are a direct result of a rushed process and could lead to serious unintended consequences.”

The bill will also include: mandate the use of police body cameras for all officers, prohibit chokeholds, require the maintenance of police misconduct records, require the use of special prosecutors in officer-involved deaths, among other things.

The legislation was developed this summer after months of policing-related protests across the state and the nation.

The measure now sits on Governor JB Pritzker’s desk to be signed.

Windhorst is urging Pritzker to veto the bill.

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