Illinois lawmakers used the final hours of their legislative session to pass a transformational criminal justice plan that includes a number of provisions long sought after by the far Left.
Should Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, sign the bill into law, the state could soon see the elimination of cash bail for almost all criminal offenses, a revamping of the state’s reporting system against police officers, and sweeping regulations on how law enforcement interacts with the public.
“We are fundamentally changing the way that we do criminal justice in this state. We are fundamentally changing the way that law enforcement and communities interact,” said Democratic state Sen. Elgie Sims, who lobbied for the bill that was passed early Wednesday morning. “This is a complex piece of legislation. It is bold. It is transformational. …This bill is not about who we are. It is about the Illinois that we strive to be.”
Law enforcement groups from around the state have repeatedly called the proposal reckless, arguing that it guarantees higher crime in the coming years. Chicago police union chief John Catanzara said the legal changes will “decimate law enforcement.”
The state’s black legislative caucus has made the reforms a top priority, and an original draft of the bill was created in the summer following nationwide social unrest after the death of George Floyd. Republicans in the state legislature criticized the process of the passing of the law, saying lawmakers simply did not have enough time to read the entire thing.
“The process matters, and what reforms we make and how we make those reforms matter,” Republican Jason Barickman said. “Many of our constituents are going to read about legislation that consisted of more than 700 pages that was debated at 4:30 a.m. And they’re going to read, watch, and listen to those news reports about this legislation and immediately cast suspicion about what’s being done in the 11th hour of this lame-duck session.”
The most radical provision within the bill, the elimination of cash bail, was backed by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx. Despite rising crime in her jurisdiction, which includes Chicago, Foxx called the bill a long-needed intervention by the state to address systemic inequality.
“Eliminating cash bail ends the practice of detaining non-violent offenders simply because they are poor while also preventing violent offenders from being released because they can afford bail,” Foxx said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the legislators, advocates and community members who went from ‘protest to progress.’ There’s still work to do, but this is a step in the right direction.”
Under her tenure as prosecutor, Foxx has implemented a number of policies that mirror what Democrats wish to bring statewide. The George Soros-backed state attorney has significantly cut back on prosecutions in the county and eliminated bail for nearly all nonviolent offenses.
Foxx and her supporters point to studies that say her reforms have not contributed to rising crime, despite Chicago seeing a 60% increase in shootings and a 50% increase in murders last year compared to 2019. Over 30 individuals arrested in 2020 in connection to violent crimes, including the slaying of a former Chicago Fire Department lieutenant, were out on bail at the time of their alleged crimes.