Gov. JB Pritzker signed a criminal justice omnibus bill backed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Monday, abolishing cash bail, overhauling police certification and reforming use-of-force standards among numerous other provisions.
Pritzker signed the legislation, House Bill 3653, referred to as the “Safe-T Act,” during an event at Chicago State University alongside members of his administration and lawmakers from the Black Caucus.
“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,” he said.
Members of the Black Caucus have countered claims against the bill’s transparency by pointing to nine subject matter hearings held by the caucus in state Senate committees between September and November.
The office of the governor and Attorney General Kwame Raoul held working meetings over several months starting in July with representatives from both chambers and parties, Fraternal Order of Police groups, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sherriffs’ Association
Starting on Jan. 1, 2023, all bail bonds and conditions of bail will be replaced by a system of pretrial release to be developed by the Illinois courts based on a detainee’s alleged crime, their risk of not appearing for their court date, and the threat or danger they may pose to an individual or community if released. Illinois is the first state to completely abolish cash bail by statute. Washington, D.C. does not use cash bail, and New Jersey effectively eliminated cash bail in most cases in 2017.
“Cash bond says if you are poor then you get a lower tier of safety,” Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th), one sponsor of the bill and longtime activist against cash bail, said at the signing. “If you are poor and Black, you get an even lower tier of safety. If you're a poor, Black and a woman, you get an even lower tier of public safety.”
Raoul, who pushed the police certification component, also celebrated the bill's signing, saying in a statement, “I am proud of the continued work and collaboration between my office, law enforcement, advocates and legislators to enact meaningful new laws that will not only promote professionalism, increase transparency and restore the public’s trust in law enforcement, but also enhance services available to victims of crime.
“While today is a significant step forward, lasting reform is a constant work in progress, and I am committed to continuing to work alongside our partners in law enforcement to improve policing in communities across Illinois.”
The new law grants the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board broader discretionary authority to decertify officers for unethical or unprofessional conduct that would otherwise not rise to the level of a felony. All law enforcement agencies would be required to only hire certified officers, and officers would need to re-certify under the system every three years.
Herald staff contributed. Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.