CHICAGO (WGN) — Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a historic and controversial criminal justice reform bill Monday that would end cash bail statewide by 2023.
House Bill 3653, meant to reshape criminal justice and policing in Illinois, was passed in the final days of the lame-duck session last month by the General Assembly. The bill aims to address police accountability and inequities in law enforcement.
The legislation was authored by the Black Caucus and also acts to require police body cameras by 2025 and expand police training and instances in which officers can be stripped of certification.
“One that marks a transformative step in moving Illinois forward is Illinois’ effort to lead the country in dismantling systemic racism,” Pritzker said.
The bill also expands new procedures for no-knock warrants and offers suspects who are arrested three phone calls instead of one.
“These reforms needed to happen,” said State Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago).
“It’s February and we’re celebrating Black History Month. Black history is about monumental moments and movements that serve as catalysts for change,” adds Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. “Today is both.”
Police unions and other law enforcement organizations have urged Pritzker to veto the bill, however, saying it would give crime suspects more advantages than the police.
The centerpiece of the massive law is ending cash bail. Almost everyone would be released from jail while awaiting trial unless a judge decides otherwise.
The reforms also provide more rights for people accused of crimes and victims. People in police custody will be allowed to make three phone calls. While barriers are removed to help more people access the state’s victims’ compensation program.
The police reforms are the most controversial measures.
The legislation increases certification for officers, allows for complaints to be submitted anonymously, and mandates the use of body cameras. Officers would be held responsible for the turning the body cam on.
“There is a concern that this bill establishes a new criminal penalty for police officers who do not use their body cameras when required by law,” said State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis). “I believe that this bill actually makes us as a state, the public less safe.”
In a statement, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said:
“The Governor’s support of House Bill 3653 is an insult to our first responders, law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who want to live free of violence and destruction from the criminal element. It’s clear that Governor Pritzker does not understand this bill and what it means to our criminal justice system. Illinois and its citizens will not be safer because of this bill.”STATEMENT FROM HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADER JIM DURKIN
But the governor says the law, which provides funding for police training, will, in fact, make Illinois safer.
“Opponents of this law don’t want any change, don’t believe there is injustice in the system and are praying upon fear about change to lie and fearmonger in defense of the status quo,” Pritzker said.
The reforms were backed by Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, both Democrats.
Lawmakers at Monday’s singing ceremony acknowledged some aspects of the law will need to be cleaned up with future legislation.
Many provisions will take effect on July 1, while others will be phased in over the next four years.