Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill

Bizar Male

(WSIL) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has signed into law a controversial criminal justice reform bill.

House Bill 3653 passed in mid-January and has been on Pritzker’s desk waiting to be signed into law. Some of the major reforms include ending cash bail by 2023, limiting use of force by officers, and mandating body cameras by 2025.

Other items included in the bill:

  • Diverts low-level drug crimes into substance use programs and treatments.
  • Modernizes sentencing laws and streamlines the victims’ compensation system.
  • Requires more investments in officer training, mental health, and officer wellness.
  • Expands training opportunities for officers, requires health and wellness services for officers, and protects officers from unjust lawsuits based on their reasonable actions.
  • Sets statewide standards on use of force, crowd control responses, de-escalation, and arrest techniques.
  • Requires the use of body-worn cameras by police departments statewide.
  • Professionalizes policing through the creation of a more robust certification system and lays out clear standards and processes for decertification.
  • Expands accountability across police departments by requiring the permanent retention of police misconduct records and removes the sworn affidavit requirement when filing police misconduct complaints.
  • Requires police departments to develop plans to protect vulnerable people present during search warrant raids.
  • Eliminates license suspensions for unpaid fines and fees due to red light camera and traffic offenses.
  • Ends prison gerrymandering.
  • Expands services for crime victims.

The bill has drawn harsh criticism from state’s attorneys, law enforcement, and Republican lawmakers.

“This legislation marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that plagues our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “In this terrible year, in the middle of a brutal viral pandemic that hurt Black people and Brown people disproportionately, lawmakers fought to address the pandemic of systemic racism in the wake of national protests. This bill was also infused with solutions from individuals most directly impacted: survivors of domestic violence, survivors of crime, and those who have been detained pre-trial only because they are poor. Today we advance our values in the law – progress secured despite the pandemic, because of the passion and push of the Legislative Black Caucus, activists, advocates, and residents intent on leaving a better Illinois for all our children.”

“Black History is about monumental moments and movements that serve as catalysts for change. Today, with the signing of HB 3653, it is both,” said Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. “I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for Governor Pritzker and members of the Illinois Black Caucus. They used their seats of power to effectuate change that will alter the trajectory of lives, families, and entire communities for generations to come.”

The Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition has issued a statement about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signing of the law enforcement and criminal justice legislation that passed the Illinois General Assembly during the Lame Duck Session:

“In signing this bill into law, Governor Pritzker chose to listen to a few strident political voices rather than the 120,000 petition signing citizens who plainly saw the bill for what it is. This new law is a blatant move to punish an entire, honorable profession that will end up hurting law-abiding citizens the most. Because we are sworn to protect and serve the public, we sincerely hope that we will not be proven right about this new law, that it won’t cause police officers to leave the profession in droves and handcuff those who remain so they can’t stop crimes against people and property. Please don’t let us measure its dismal failure by the shattered lives it produces. We urge all citizens to remember who supported this law, and keep that in mind the next time they look to the police in Illinois for the protection they can no longer provide.”

Illinois Law Enforcement Coalition

118th District State Representative Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis) issued the following statement in response to Governor JB Pritzker’s signing of HB 3653

“I voted no on the bill because there were too many flaws in the bill’s language, the process shut out the public, and the changes in the law will make the public and police officers less safe. I disagree strongly with Governor Pritzker’s irresponsible decision to move forward with signing this legislation, even though he knows there are major problems that exist in the law.  Even supporters of the legislation acknowledge that future legislation will be necessary to correct some of the more problematic parts of the HB 3653 that was signed into law.

We must do the difficult work required to fix this law so Illinoisans can be confident that police officers have the tools they need to keep the public safe, and that police officers are not hampered in doing their job so that they can continue to protect and serve our communities.”

Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis)

State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) issued the following statement following the Governor’s actions.

“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. I stand in support of my local law enforcement officers and agencies who have vocally opposed this legislation.

Now that we’ve had adequate time to work through the nearly 800-page bill, we know that it makes sweeping changes to the criminal justice system of our state, endangers our communities by eliminating cash bail and places an unfunded financial burden on our local police forces.

We had a real opportunity to work together to pass substantive reforms to provide for a safer Illinois. We can achieve so much more for our state if we work together. It’s disappointing and frustrating.”

Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg)

115th District State Representative Paul Jacobs (R-Pomona) wasn’t yet a member of the general assembly, but is against the signing of the bill.

“The unintended consequences of this sweeping police and crime reform bill are too many to list,” Jacobs said. “I fear particularly that the end of cash bail will make the people of Illinois less safe. Governor Pritzker’s action today means police officers are going to struggle to do their jobs with the new list of demands they will have placed on them. We’re in a ‘blame the police, reward the criminals’ political cycle in this state. I will be working with my colleagues in the House to amend this flawed bill so police can be confident they have the tools necessary to keep the public safe.”

Rep. Paul Jacobs (R-Pomona)

State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), a vocal opponent to the legislation, issued the following statement following the Governor’s actions.

“By signing House Bill 3653, the Governor made a statement to the citizens of Illinois that he doesn’t value the democratic process or the safety of Illinoisans.

Now that we’ve had the past few weeks to truly break down the hundreds of pages contained in this proposal, it has become evident this is a law that will protect criminals, threaten our law enforcement community and endanger public safety. It’s shameful.

The Governor’s actions today make one thing clear-he doesn’t care about or value a safer Illinois.”

Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro)

117th District State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) issued the following statement in response to Governor JB Pritzker’s signing of HB 3653 on Monday.

“The changes contained in this massive law of sweeping criminal justice reforms is full of double definitions of important terms, ambiguous language, and provisions that will most certainly have a chilling effect on our ability to recruit and retain good police officers. I am particularly concerned that the end of cash bail will lead to repeat offenders having carte blanch to continue to commit crimes without ever facing consequences. HB 3653 was a rushed bill, passed in the middle of the night on the last day of the 101st General Assembly. The process that was followed to get to today’s signing of major criminal justice and police reforms is the wrong way to treat the law enforcement community and comes at the expense of the future safety of the people of Illinois.”

Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton)

“Thanks to Governor Pritzker and the state legislature, Illinois is making major progress toward rethinking public safety and advancing new approaches to make communities safer. Through investments in prevention, rehabilitation, and the expansion of victim services, Illinois leaders are supporting communities that have been long neglected by the current system. Improving public safety and public health go hand in hand.”   

Lenore Anderson, President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice.

“Governor Pritzker will regret signing HB 3653, an outgrowth of the “defund police” movement. In signing this bill, the Governor is willfully undermining public safety –  endangering citizens, emboldening criminals, and making Illinois less safe for families. It’s no surprise that in a recent statewide poll of law enforcement, 66% of police officers will now consider retiring early. Standing firmly behind the thin blue line, Illinois Republicans are appalled at the signing of this bill representing an all out attack on both public safety and the brave men and women who provide it.”

Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy

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