Criminal justice reform law draws criticism, acceptance across the aisle

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Criminal justice reform is now a reality in the state of Illinois.

On Monday afternoon, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 3653 into law.

“All Illinoisans will live in a safer and more just state with this law on the books,” said Pritzker.

HB 3653 requires police body cameras by 2025, expands police training, and implements new procedures for no-knock warrants. It also ends cash bail by 2023.

“There are more low-income people of color sitting in jail and it is proven that there are higher bail rates set for people of color,” said YWCA McLean County CEO Liz German.

German said the law is a step in the right direction.

“Ending cash bail and ending wealth meaning freedom definitely speaks to addressing systemic racism,” said German.

Tazewell County Sheriff Jeffrey Lower spoke out against the bill in January. Now, he has to enforce it.

“I’m going from a position of opposing a proposed law to having to comply with that law,” said Lower.

One of his concerns was officers leaving the department. He said the process is already underway.

“I’ve already had some leave. I’ve had others say they will leave once it’s signed. That’s my challenge and I understand their concerns but we’re going to have to work within the boundaries of the law and figure it out,” said Lower.

Pritzker said the law is going to increase safety and support all people including police officers.

“This bill protects police officers. This bill codifies things that were not codified before to protect them,” said Pritzker.

Lower said leaders are now trying to figure out how to implement the changes.

“We’ve been given a framework of what we’re going to do, but not how we’re going to do it,” said Lower.

Lower said departments will have to work with the training board and State’s Attorney’s office to figure out training and education.

After Pritzker signed the bill, lawmakers are reacting to the legislation.

State Rep. Dan Brady (R – Normal) saying, “While there are some good points in the legislation, they are overshadowed by measures that will handcuff police and allow violent offenders back onto our streets.”

State Sen. Mike Barickman (R – Bloomington) said, “I’m extremely disappointed that the governor didn’t listen to the scores of police officers, state’s attorneys, and concerned citizens who shared one clear and obvious concern – that this proposal will make our communities less safe.”

HB 3653 goes into effect on July 1, 2021.

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