Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) signed sweeping criminal justice reform legislation this week, making his state the first in the country to end cash bail.
In an announcement detailing the legislation, which the governor signed into law Monday, Pritzker’s office said the policy action will help move the state “from a pretrial detention system that prioritizes wealth, to one that prioritizes public safety.” . The practice of cash bail in the country has been criticized for having a disproportionate impact on people of color and low-income individuals, while also benefiting defendants with wealthier backgrounds.
The measure to end the practice is just one of a series of policy actions included in House Bill 3653 that, according to the governor’s office, aims to expand “security, fairness and justice through the transformation of the state criminal justice system “.
Other actions included in the bill that are outlined in the announcement include requiring the use of body cameras in police departments across the state, setting state standards on the use of force, de-escalation and arrest techniques, as well as eliminating license suspensions. on unpaid fines and fees for certain traffic offenses.
Pritzker said in a statement that the legislation “marks a substantial step toward dismantling the systemic racism that affects our communities, our state and our nation and brings us closer to true safety, true fairness and true justice.”
“In this terrible year, amid a brutal viral pandemic that disproportionately affected blacks and brunettes, lawmakers fought to address the pandemic of systemic racism in the wake of national protests,” he continued.
“This bill was also infused with solutions from the people most directly affected: survivors of domestic violence, survivors of crime and those who have been detained before trial just because they are poor,” added the governor.
The governor also credited the Illinois Black Legislative Caucus for its efforts in spearheading the bill against Republican opposition.
State Senator Elgie Sims (D), a member of the caucus, said the reforms should be “the first steps we take to transform criminal justice in Illinois.”
“We must reinvent accountability. We must reinvent transparency. We must reinvent incarceration. These reforms are a start,” he said.
“This historic moment is the result of a monumental effort by countless people, from those who testified during 30 hours of public hearings on these issues, to those who have promoted some of these reforms over the years, and especially the residents of Illinois who expressed their support, ”said Sims. “I thank you for raising your voice and never giving up, and I thank Governor Pritzker for making these measures the law of the land. The journey continues. ”
“For a decade we have worked to reduce our dependence on the antiquated cash bail system in Cook County; and our efforts have shown that we have been able to do it safely, ”said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“This work, along with decades of advocacy and experience from across the state and the communities most affected by crime, has informed this courageous and just piece of legislation,” added Preckwinkle.