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Area legislators not happy that Governor signed criminal justice reform bill

Gov. JB Pritzker today signed a massive criminal justice reform bill.   State Representative Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) voted against the measure and said today’s signing makes it a bad day for the state of Illinois. 

The bill, which is over 700 pages in length and was approved in the last seconds of the just completed legislative session, will eliminate cash bail in Illinois. Swanson said it will let accused criminal offenders be set free without waiting in jail for their court date if they cannot afford bail. A judge would issue pre-trial release conditions for Illinois offenders.

In addition, the bill would mandate the use of police body cameras for all officers but provides no funds for police departments of purchase the equipment. 

The bill was met with some criticism by law enforcement and groups such as the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Association, which said the bill “will profoundly undermine public safety and overturn long-standing common-sense policies and practices in the criminal justice system.” Others were critical of the bill potentially not being fully read through before it passed.

Macomb, IL – State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) spoke out Monday in opposition to Governor JB Pritzker’s signing of a criminal justice bill that barely passed the House at the end of the January lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly.

“This so-called ‘criminal justice’ bill endangers public safety, is anti-police and gives more rights to criminals than to their victims,” Rep. Hammond said. “Law enforcement officials across Illinois believe HB 3653 will threaten the safety of Illinois families and make it more difficult for law enforcement to keep our communities safe. I voted against this dangerous bill and am saddened, but not surprised, that Governor Pritzker has signed it into law.”

House Bill 3653 contains many controversial provisions that make extensive changes to Illinois’ criminal justice laws. The legislation abolishes cash bail, makes it more difficult for prosecutors to charge a defendant with felony murder, adds further requirements for no-knock warrants, gives judges the ability to deviate from mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, makes changes to the “three strikes” law, and decreases mandatory supervised release terms.

One of the most controversial aspects of this new law is the numerous changes and additional requirements it places on Illinois’ law enforcement officers. The legislation mandates body cameras be worn by all officers. While law enforcement does not oppose the use of body cams, there is no funding included to purchase the necessary equipment. The bill creates a new felony offence of law enforcement misconduct, creates an anonymous complaint policy, and makes changes to use of force in making arrest, duty to render aid and duty to intervene. The bill makes significant changes to the law enforcement officer certification and decertification process, including the creation of a new Law Enforcement Certification Review Panel. 

House Bill 3653 was approved by the Illinois House on Wednesday, January 13 by the bare minimum of 60 votes (60-50-0), with only minutes to spare before the clock struck to end the 101st General Assembly. It was strongly opposed by Illinois’ law enforcement community, including the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and many State’s Attorneys from across the state.

By signing a controversial criminal justice reform bill into law, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ignored the valid public-safety concerns of law-abiding Illinoisans, especially law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) says she strongly opposes House Bill 3653 because little public input was allowed by the lawmakers who ramrodded it through the General Assembly earlier this year, and the Governor who signed it into law on Feb. 22.“Even after nearly a year of these unprecedented times, during which we have been subjected to government by Executive Order, it is hard to believe these controversial reforms have been signed into law,” Tracy said. “The proponents of this terrible legislation chose not to listen to the strong public outcry of law-abiding citizens, and the concerns of law enforcement officers who protect our streets each and every day.”The Governor signed House Bill 3653 into law, despite the fact that 83 percent of law enforcement officers feel that this legislation diminishes their ability to respond to calls, AND despite the fact that 99 percent feel that this legislation will embolden criminals.“Opposition to House Bill 3653 is not about resisting criminal justice reform. We know there are bad actors out there, and changes are needed,” Tracy said. “We had hoped to pull this bill back for more discussion, which would have allowed all of us to come together to craft realistic reforms that protect our communities and keep our law enforcement officers safe. Pritzker’s action today has dashed those hopes.”

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