Criminal justice reform becomes law

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A few weeks after it passed the Illinois Legislature, Gov. JB Pritzker signed House Bill 3653, now called the Safe-T Act, into law on Monday. 

Republicans and law enforcement officials across the state denounced the law, the highlights of which include abolishing cash bail, overhauling police certification and reforming use-of-force standards among numerous other provisions.

“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 Pritzker, a Democrat. 

Local GOP leaders disagreed with that assessment. 

“Our caucus has worked tirelessly to show the litany of issues within this bill, and we feel it is a grave mistake to not veto this bill so that it could be further worked on,” state Rep. David Friess (R-Red Bud) said. “I do not believe there is anyone who would disagree that improvements can be made. However, instead of working to find and implement those improvements we are left with legislation that greatly harms and endangers the victims of crimes, police officers and our local communities. Removing cash bail, implementing mandates of body cameras, reducing the use of force, and allowing the anonymous filings of complaints against officers are just some of the issues where common ground could have been found, but instead will make our communities less safe.”

State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) similarly criticized the bill. 

“By signing House Bill 3653, the governor made a statement to the citizens of Illinois that he doesn’t value the democratic process or the safety of Illinoisans,” she said. “This was a bill that was rammed through the General Assembly without proper public input or vetting, completely disregarding the process by which a real representative government should be operating.” 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Paul Schimpf of Waterloo also lambasted the move. 

“By signing HB 3653 into law, JB Pritzker failed the people of Illinois in terms of both policy and leadership,” Schimpf said. “Adamantly opposed by nearly all Illinois law enforcement leaders, HB 3653 makes Illinois communities and families less safe. Even more troubling, the legislation’s passage during an overnight, lame-duck session vote lacked meaningful scrutiny and review.” 

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