Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to sign a criminal justice reform bill into law Monday that will, among other things, eliminate cash bail, make it easier to file misconduct complaints against law enforcement, and require the use of body cameras by cops across the state.
Most provisions of the 764-page law go into effect on July 1. Other sections take effect over the next four years.
One of the law’s highest-profile components, the elimination of cash bail, won’t go into effect until January 1, 2023 — about two months after the next election day for Pritzker, state representatives, and many state senators and judges.
Sponsors of the bill said in an online town hall meeting this month that the elimination of cash bail is being held off until 2023 so the state’s court systems can train judges and lawyers on the changes.
“Cash bail was never about public safety,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a tweet after the reform bill passed. “Eliminating cash bail makes this about risk and not about poverty.”
Amy Campanelli, Cook County’s top public defender, hailed the new legislation in an email to her staff on the day after it passed.
“Yesterday was a historic and victorious day in the Illinois General Assembly,” Campanelli wrote. “After an intense 2020 – a year filled with racial unrest, local and national protests fueled by numerous senseless killings of Black people at the hands of police and the drastic increase in our jail population – during a pandemic – we finally have something to celebrate.”
But former judge Pat O’Brien, who lost a campaign to replace Foxx in November, said Sunday he believes the law “spectacularly fails to give consideration to the community’s right to safety.”
The law also fails to provide money for local authorities to acquire equipment and personnel to monitor defendants who will be released, he said.
On Saturday, a social media post by the Illinois Sheriff’s Association claimed to demonstrate how the law will affect day-to-day police services in the state.
“You arrive home and notice an unknown person sitting in your backyard,” one scenario reads. “You call the police…[who] confront the suspect and he refuses to leave.”
According to the association, “the individual cannot be arrested and no force can be used to make him leave, only a ticket can be issued” under the new law.
According to O’Brien’s statement and Campanelli’s email, the new law will:
- Codify a presumption that defendants are entitled to pretrial release.
- Establish that defendants can only be detained before trial if it is determined that they pose a specific, real, and present threat to an “identifiable person or persons.”
O’Brien also noted that the law allows a judge to put defendants on electronic monitoring or home detention only to “protect an identifiable person or persons from imminent threat of serious physical harm.”
Under the law, people who do go onto electronic monitoring can’t be charged with escape unless they skip out for at least 48 hours, he said.
Among other aspects of the law that O’Brien singled out:
- The State’s Attorney is precluded from appealing a Judge’s decision denying detention/custody in favor of pretrial release.
- The State’s Attorney must prove by a higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence” the necessary elements to detain or revoke “pretrial release”
- The penalty for failing to attend scheduled court date is reduced.
Campanelli’s email also said the legislation:
- Establishes new requirements that must be in place prior to a court issuing a no-knock warrant
- Places new requirements on law enforcement’s use of “deadly force”
- Bans chokeholds, regardless of intent
- Establishes a body camera mandate for all law enforcement agencies.
- Establishes new training requirements for law enforcement agencies and other first responders
In addition to the elements pointed out by O’Brien and Campanelli, people will no longer be required to sign their names to file misconduct complaints against police officers in Illinois.
Since a 2004 law passed, signatures have been required to reduce false accusations and repeat allegations as a form of payback from people they investigate, arrest, or ticket.
There are workarounds when potential misconduct is brought to the attention of authorities without signed complaints, but the process can be onerous, the Chicago Tribune reported.