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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Criminal Justice Reform Act passes Illinois Senate, Kankakee officials voice objections

Criminal Justice Reform Act will now head to the Illinois House

SPRINGFIELD – After passing 32-23 in the Illinois Senate early Wednesday morning, the Criminal Justice Reform Act (House Bill 3653, formerly House Bill 163) heads to the Illinois House. Lawmakers approved the bill just before 5:00 a.m this morning.

Under the Criminal Justice Reform Act, cash bail would be eliminated, body cameras would be required for all departments, and many reforms for immunity for law enforcement officers, along with changes in police misconduct record keeping.

State Representative Jackie Haas (R-Kankakee) said Wednesday:

“After months without the General Assembly convening for session, the House remained in session until 4:15 this morning in a rush to push through bills with little time to review and debate, while our constituents were unaware sleeping. Called back at 8 am, we were faced with law enforcement and criminal justice reform bills that were pushed through the Senate in the early morning hours, with new amendments not yet seen by the House. These are bills that fundamentally change policing and how public safety may intervene with those who break the law and cause harm to you and your families.”

In Kankakee County, the implementation of body cameras on Officers would be required by January 1st, 2023. Cameras would be required to be turned on at all times when an officer is in uniform, responding to calls, or engaged in any law enforcement-related encounters or activities while an officer is on duty. However, under the bill, cameras would be allowed to be turned off inside a correctional facility, or if a victim, witness, or possible informant requests it be shut off.

In a statement posted January 6th shortly after 4 pm, Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey voiced his opposition to the pending bill:

“If approved, would effectively eliminate law enforcement as we know it. Our law enforcement officers are among some of the most honest, brave, and best in our nation and this bill would likely drive a large majority of them out of public service as a result.” Downey wrote in the statement. “This is single-handedly the most detrimental piece of legislation ever proposed and I think it’s crucial that our area residents understand the underlying implications if it were to pass.”

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