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Pritzker expected to sign sweeping criminal justice reform bill

Chicago Sun Times

Monday, February 22, 2021  |  Article  |  Rachel Hinton

Pritzker, J.B.

The criminal justice bill was crafted and pushed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. It passed by the General Assembly last month during the legislature’s lame duck session.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was expected to sign a sweeping criminal justice bill into law Monday, moving Illinois closer to ending cash bail and requiring police officers to wear body cameras — moves that critics say will hurt public safety.

 

The criminal justice bill, HB3653, was crafted and pushed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. It passed by the General Assembly last month during the Legislature’s lame duck session.

 

Along with bringing about the end of cash bail in the state, the bill creates a statewide certification program for police officers; mandates three phone calls for detainees; allows courts to move away from mandatory minimums and toward alternate sentencing; and, in Cook County, assigns special prosecutors in cases where there are police-involved deaths.

 

Some legislators and law enforcement groups urged Pritzker not to sign the bill, which they say will create “major public safety issues” for the state.

 

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said late last month the state must “thoroughly and carefully address police reform and criminal justice reform. It is the right thing to do.”

 

“I believe no person should have to live in fear of their government, and we must address those issues,” the Western Springs Republican said. “House Bill 3653 doesn’t do it. In short, it is a confusing, inoperable and contradictory attempt to reform policing and the criminal justice system.”

 

Sponsors of the bill have said complaints from law enforcement groups and Republicans are little more than “fear mongering.”

 

State Rep. Justin Slaughter, who helped steer the package through the House, previously told the Chicago Sun-Times there is time to collaborate with law enforcement on the implementation of the various parts of the bill.

 

The end of cash bail won’t go into effect until January 2023, and municipalities will be on a rolling compliance schedule to use body cameras with complete compliance by 2025, Slaughter said.

 

“In my opinion this is just the start of where we need to be with criminal justice reform,” Slaughter said. “We believe the provisions in the bill are sensible changes that need to be made.”