Gov. Pritzker signs sweeping criminal justice reform bill

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Governor JB Pritzker delivers a COVID update in January of 2021.
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Elimination of cash bail for non-violent offenders one of many reforms

Information provided by the Governor’s Office

CHICAGO, Ill. (February 22, 2021) – Building on efforts to create a more equitable and safe criminal justice system, Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation that transforms Illinois’ criminal justice system. This legislation ends a pretrial detention system that benefits the wealthy, expands training and wellness programs for law enforcement, modernizes sentencing laws, and prioritizes treatment and rehabilitation for low-level drug crimes.

Bill details

House Bill 3653 expands safety, fairness, and justice by transforming the state’s criminal justice system and enacting statewide police reforms through the following:

  • Moves Illinois from a system of pretrial detention that prioritizes wealth, to one that prioritizes public safety—in part by eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenders.
  • 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.

Elected officials’s comments

“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.”

“These reforms should merely be the first steps we take to transform criminal justice in Illinois,” said State Senator Elgie Sims. “We must reimagine accountability. We must reimagine transparency. We must reimagine incarceration. These reforms are a beginning. This historic moment is the result of a monumental effort on the part of countless people, from those who testified during the 30 hours of public hearings on these issues, to those who have pushed for some of these reforms for years, and especially to the Illinoisans who signaled their support. I thank them for lifting up their voices and never giving up, and I thank Gov. Pritzker for making these measures the law of the land. The journey continues.”

“The historical inequities of our criminal justice system do not just disappear with the passage of time; that takes effort and courage,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “Today I thank the Governor and our legislators for their effort and courage, doing what it takes us to lead us into a brighter future. For a decade now we’ve worked to reduce our reliance on the antiquated system of cash bail in Cook County; and our efforts have shown that we have been able to do so safely. This work, coupled with the decades of advocacy and expertise from throughout the state and from the communities most affected by crime, have informed this brave and just piece of legislation.”

Some parts of bill effective July 1, 2021

HB 3653 was the result of years of work by community advocates, lawmakers, and members of law enforcement. The legislation was an initiative of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and the culmination of nine public hearings, 30 hours of testimony, and countless meetings with law enforcement, community members, and advocates.

HB 3653 is effective July 1, 2021, except for certain provisions that are effective either January 1, 2022 (use of force changes), January 1, 2023 (Pretrial Fairness Act), and January 1, 2025 (prison gerrymandering).

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