GOP says criminal justice reform bill harms victims of crime

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A major criminal justice reform bill is just a signature away from becoming law, but state GOP lawmakers said Thursday at a press conference that the bill puts crime victims last and poses a threat to public safety.

Among its many provisions, H.R. 3653 would make Illinois the first state in the country to get rid of cash bail. The sweeping 766-page bill addresses police accountability, prisoners’ rights, military equipment and court reforms.

It would also mandate the use of police cameras, create statewide use of force standards, and ban the purchase of most military equipment.

Illinois State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Danville) said the bill would hurt victims of crime.

“My main concern with this bill is that it enhances protections for individuals charged with violent crimes at the expense of the victims of those crime,” said Marron.

Illinois State Rep. David Welter (R-Morris) said ending cash bail would “Make our communities less safe and victims more vulnerable… We are still finding out provisions of this bill that are both negative in areas we have concern.”

Supporters of the bill say ending cash bail is a step towards addressing classism and racism in the criminal justice system

“What we know about money bond is it stands at the intersections of race, class, and gender,” Illinois State Sen. Robert Peters (D-Chicago) said January 13 at a press conference. “Over the next two years, we’re going to work to break down a system that stands at that intersection.”

The bill was passed on party lines during the lame-duck session. GOP lawmakers argue it was rushed at the 11th hour, and that they were given just a few hours to review and vote on the massive bill.

“The final product lacked bipartisan support… It left out major concerns expressed by law enforcement, advocacy groups and an overwhelming majority of state attorneys in Illinois,” said Marron.

GOP lawmakers said they want criminal justice reform, but not like this. They are calling on Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) to veto the bill and to start over. They want a seat at the table.

“Republicans have a desire for criminal justice reform, but include us, hear our thoughts, concerns and work with us,” said Welter.

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