Criminal Justice and Reform Bill in Pritzker's Hands


Published on January 13 2021 1:49 pm
Last Updated on January 13 2021 10:00 pm
Written by Matt Robinson

Chicago Police 2020

Illinois lawmakers have approved an expansive criminal justice and police reform bill.

The legislation is hundreds of pages long, setting statewide standards for the use of force, making sure suspects in custody get three phone calls, ending cash bail, and phasing in a body camera mandate for police departments.

House Bill 3653 passed the Senate by a vote of 32 to 23 early Wednesday morning. It passed in the House with a 60-50 vote later on the final day of the lame-duck session of the Illinois Legislature. 

The bill was opposed by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

It’s sponsored by Representative Justin Slaughter of Chicago.

“As black communities across the state grapple with police brutality, mass incarceration, and prevalent crime and violence, this bill represents a robust, transformative, bold, ambitious initiative to comprehensively reform our criminal justice system,” said Slaughter.

Representative Patrick Windhorst of Metropolis voted against the measure, saying it will decrease public safety.

“From the early 90s to 2014 and 2015 we have seen massive decreases in crime throughout our state and country. A massive overhaul of the criminal justice system I believe will lead to increases in crime and undoing of things that have occurred over that 20 to 25 year period of time that has resulted in a safer society,” said Windhorst.

Opponents also question the cost to police departments and if less people will want to be police officers under the new rules.

Unlike previous versions, the legislation does not remove qualified immunity for police officers but does create a task force to study the issue.

The bill was opposed by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

A coalition representing Illinois law enforcement leadership and rank-and-file officers has issued a statement:

We are extremely disappointed and saddened in the process, the lack of discussion with members of the law enforcement community, and the ultimate outcome in the Illinois General Assembly today. The lawmakers who voted in favor of this criminal-favoring legislation ignored the pleas of more than 112,000 petition-signing citizens and refused to listen to the concerns of law enforcement. Our communities will be less safe if this legislation is signed into law. We urge Governor J.B. Pritzker to stand up for the majority of Illinois citizens who value their lives, possessions, and well-being and veto this bill and its extreme provisions. Today's outcome, although it is ominous for Illinois, does not diminish our commitment. Our members will continue to use all authorized means to protect every community.