Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill

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Pritzker signs criminal justice reform bill

February 22, 2021 - 21:01
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On Monday, Feb. 22, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation that transforms Illinois’ criminal justice system. The new law ends a pretrial detention system that advocates say benefits the wealthy, expands training and wellness programs for law enforcement, modernizes sentencing laws and prioritizes treatment and rehabilitation for low-level drug crimes.

House Bill 3653 includes these provisions:

  • Moves Illinois from a system of pretrial detention that prioritizes wealth, to one that prioritizes public safety.
  • 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.

HB 3653 will go into effect on July 1 except for certain provisions that are effective either Jan. 1, 2022 (use of force changes), Jan. 1, 2023 (pretrial fairness act), and Jan. 1, 2025 (prison gerrymandering).

“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,” Pritzker said. “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 Lt. Gov. 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.”