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Criminal justice reform bill set to move forward

Friday, Jan 8, 2021

* I’ve been telling subscribers about this bill for days

A new, controversial bill is set to come before Illinois lawmakers, which they could then vote on in the next five days. The bill includes major police reforms, and it’s sparking controversy amongst our local officials. […]

“It’s necessary to empower our community,” Democratic State Representative Maurice West says. “How else will we bring back trust [between] law enforcement and everyone.” […]

“There’s so many bad parts about this legislation that it will pretty much put law enforcement out of business in Illinois,” [Republican Senator Dave Syverson] explains. […]

Here are just some of the bill’s reforms:

    • New procedures for reporting in-custody deaths
    • Mandated statewide use of force policy
    • Eliminate qualified immunity for police officers
    • Reduce officer’s collective bargaining rights
    • End cash bail
    • Ensure disciplinary records of police officers are never erased
    • Mandate crisis intervention training
    • Scale back no-knock orders

* Capitol News Illinois

The bill has seen intense pushback from Republican lawmakers and groups representing law enforcement. The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police called it “the worst thing to happen to our profession” and “the end of the law enforcement profession as we know it” in a statement released Tuesday.

In a Wednesday notice, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police wrote “it might as well be a crime to be a law enforcement officer in Illinois.” […]

In response, the Senate Black Caucus distributed their own release Wednesday, saying “From our perspective, our communities know what they need in order to be kept safe. We come from the communities we represent. Our experiences, combined with our understanding of policy, have shaped our legislative approach, and they cannot be dismissed when it comes to determining what our communities need.”

The article goes on to describe some aspects of the bill, so click here. I gave you a quick summary of some of the police-related items yesterday. Click here to refresh your memory.

* More more in this Tribune story, but here’s an excerpt

A key piece of the caucus’s criminal justice reform plan is eliminating cash bail, which proponents argue disproportionately affects low-income people of color who are awaiting trial.

Sen. Elgie Sims, a Chicago Democrat, is sponsoring a measure that would eliminate the term “bail” from state statute. Judges would still have discretion to keep people awaiting trial in custody if it’s determined they pose a risk to the public or have violated the conditions of their pretrial release. But people could no longer be kept in jail solely based on their inability to make bail.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker backs eliminating cash bail and made it a legislative priority before the General Assembly’s spring session was truncated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposal from Sims also would place strict limitations on the collective bargaining rights of police unions. Future contract negotiations would be limited to subjects directly related to wages and benefits, and discipline policies would no longer be subject to bargaining.

* Cash bail press release in Politico

New polling on pretrial release: “The old-school default of keeping people who are presumed innocent in jail unless they can afford bail has always been unfair, destructive, and dangerous, and that is especially true amid a pandemic that poses a unique threat to incarcerated people. When informed that other jurisdictions have safely reduced jail populations through bail reform, 57 percent of Illinois voters support reforming the cash bail system and creating a presumption of pretrial release for most people, while only 29 percent oppose,” according to new polling from Data for Progress and The Lab, a policy vertical of The Appeal.

If you click here, you’ll see the full poll. The pre-informed response, which isn’t in the press release, is what you should pay more attention to.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

38 Comments »
  1. - Perrid - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    Most of the things sound good. Then ones I have some reservations about are the collective bargaining rights and qualified immunity. Both cause problems, so doing something to address them is good, but those are just about the only points here where I think you could go to far, in my mind.


  2. - Dotnonymous - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    Time to stop breaking down doors instead of doing proper police work.

    Our jails are full of poor people who can’t pay their way out of Debtors Prison.


  3. - Nick - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 1:57 pm:

    This bill sounds like it might be one of the most ambitious in the country.

    I know other states have ended choke holds, and some (or at least Colorado) have ended qualified immunity, and some previously have ended cash bail. But doing all of it at once, on top of also restricting collective bargaining to wages and compensation?

    This bill isn’t playing around.


  4. - Anon - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:00 pm:

    “Creating a presumption of pretrial release.” We already have that in the IL Constitution and state law. Bail has been an issue in Illinois about application of the law, with too many judges (mostly Chicago area) using cash bail as a substitute for outright detention. Only the most diehard activists believe the federal pretrial system is problematic - but cash bail exists there as a lesser used condition. This has always been about getting judges to apply Illinois law.


  5. - NotRich - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:01 pm:

    The caucus going on right now should give a helpful insight into the possibility of this passing during lame duck


  6. - Nick - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:03 pm:

    === Most of the things sound good. Then ones I have some reservations about are the collective bargaining rights and qualified immunity. Both cause problems, so doing something to address them is good, but those are just about the only points here where I think you could go to far, in my mind.
    ===

    In an ideal world I’d agree re collective bargaining.

    But it seems current contracts are so skewed that even obviously bad cops can’t be fired, one example being the current head of CPD’s actual Union. And I’m not sure how you can reform the process so negotiations only result in ‘fair’ disciplining or discharge provisions, without outright having the state dictate how such processes should work.


  7. - @misterjayem - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:11 pm:

    “the end of the law enforcement profession as we know it”

    The law enforcement profession as we know it really needs to end.

    – MrJM


  8. - Perplexed - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:16 pm:

    1) How will other public employee unions, especially those for teachers, react to a stripping of discipline policies from bargaining? This would be a big boost to school districts that now have such incredible difficulty firing ineffective educators.
    2) With Chicago homicides and shootings up 50 percent in 2020, and with stark violent crime rises in many NY, NJ and PA cities, what ethical pollster would permit survey respondents to be “informed” about this issue with such biased language as:
    “Cash bail reform has happened in many places around the country, including in 2017 in Cook County and in urban states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Studies showed crime did not increase when these states and counties instituted cash bail reform.”


  9. - Just Thoughts - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:18 pm:

    Strange that it changes the IPLRA, but not anything in the IELRA. Do they not want community college police departments to have the same collective bargaining rules?


  10. - Kayak - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    Law Enforcement will not be law enforcement put out of business. Law Enforcement will however gain widespread integrity, accountability, and the ability to weed out bad actors. LEO’s might need to purchase insurance and have private legal counsel. Many medical professionals already do this in their professions.


  11. - Red Ketcher - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:40 pm:

    Without concepts suck as Qualified Immunity , Prosecutorial Immunity & Public Official Immunity
    it may be illogical to be public servant.


  12. - Anyone Remember - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:42 pm:

    The collective bargaining proposals are “a bridge too far” … :( Bruce Rauner, is that you? /s


  13. - the Edge - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:44 pm:

    Discipline should never have been a bargained right.


  14. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:44 pm:

    Can’t say I support stripping collective bargaining and turning one group of public employees into second class citizens. That’s what the former governor wanted to do to local government employees. Unionization for one is unionization for all.

    However, there are grave extenuating circumstances: deep seated institutional racism and police brutality. We’ll see. But kudos for the bill. Politicians, especially Democrats who represent affected communities, have a responsibility to enact reform.


  15. - thisjustinagain - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:47 pm:

    To Red Ketch: That is the precise reason qualified (and absolute) immunities exist. Otherwise people will be sued without cause other than to harass them. Nobody will take a government job where they could be personally liable for legal fees and settlements. And it will spill over into every elected, appointed, and hired job. I would never have been in government if any idiot could file suits against me without cause anytime they felt like it, and had to pay my own legal fees to defend against false allegations. But hey, the police are the problem in this country, not the rioters, looters, and criminals out on low/no bond still committing more crimes….


  16. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 2:49 pm:

    From what I have read, the current qualified immunity is too broad. It should be narrowed but not eliminated.


  17. - southsider - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:01 pm:

    =Can’t say I support stripping collective bargaining and turning one group of public employees into second class citizens.”

    Are you serious? Second class citizens?

    The bill doesn’t strip collective bargaining - it eliminates the ability to negotiate over when a police officer should be disciplined or discharged. That’s not eliminating all collective bargaining rights.


  18. - Arock - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:08 pm:

    The Illinois legislature should clean up their own ethics problems first.


  19. - Illawhat - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:15 pm:

    So they want police to be sued for no reason, fired and disciplined with an anon complaint. Sure Dr. carry insurance but are local governments going to pay police enough to be able to afford that kind of insurance? I mean I’ll be the police for what a doctor makes..


  20. - pineapplejello - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:16 pm:

    At this point, even if you knew absolutely none of the specifics of the bill you would have to assume that if the Fraternal Order of Police people don’t like it, it must be a step in the right direction.


  21. - Nick - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:22 pm:

    Police officers have literally gotten away with *stealing* from people and all manner of other crimes because of how qualified immunity works.

    I’m all for not having officers erroneously sued, but qualified immunity has got to go. It does not act to protect law enforcement from doing their jobs, it is a get out of jail free card for officers to break the law.


  22. - S. Side - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:32 pm:

    What is Pritzker’s position on the reform bill?
    This bill will tank him if he signs it.


  23. - 33rd ward - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    Yes, let’s “change the profession as we know it.”


  24. - @misterjayem - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 3:57 pm:

    “So they want police to be sued for no reason, fired and disciplined with an anon complaint.”

    “If you didn’t do anything wrong, then you’ve got nothing to worry about.” — every cop, ever.

    – MrJM


  25. - Tired - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:12 pm:

    Aside from the obvious reasons certain groups don’t like this bill, there is more to it than being reported and could impact several regions and have drastic affects on politics in the state. Has anyone read the Prison gerrymandering portion of the bill?


  26. - Nick - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:18 pm:

    If it really does end prison gerrymandering that will be bad for down-state districts, one assumes?


  27. - 17% Solution - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:23 pm:

    ==Cash bail reform has happened in many places around the country, including in 2017 in Cook County and in urban states like New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Studies showed crime did not increase when these states and counties instituted cash bail reform.==

    Crime went down in 2017, 2018 and 2019.


  28. - Elmer Keith - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:28 pm:

    Looks like a repeat of the Duty to Inform debate in Brandon Phelps’ 2013 concealed carry bill. The Republicans who claim to be “law and order” types connive with the police unions to oppose anything that restrains police from doing whatever they want and getting away with it.

    Then the black caucus reps step in and remind the cop worshippers what America is really all about. Kudos once again to LaShawn Ford, Chris Welch, and especially Will Davis, who opposed Phelps and the NRA. Strip out qualified immunity for police, and you can save thousands of lives. Keep up the good work!


  29. - Original Rambler - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 4:29 pm:

    I’m wondering what took the Black Caucus so long to push for this. And what is in the proposed bill as a throwaway to get to something that will pass and the Governor will sign.


  30. - Jeff - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 5:00 pm:

    This bill feels about right. I would have liked to see a licensing system put in place for police officers and provisions to ensure that officers fired in one department for abuse or misconduct could not be hired elsewhere statewide.But this is a great start.


  31. - O-man - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 5:21 pm:

    Wow, from many of the comments here, y’all make it sound like being a cop is an ignoble profession. smh


  32. - S. Side - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 5:29 pm:

    This is a bad, bad bill. If legislators want to eliminate police departments, this bill is a way to do it. Who would want to be a police officer under these provisions? You’d have to be nuts. This, only nuts will want to be police officers. Great.
    Bad, bad bill.


  33. - Nick - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 6:37 pm:

    Its always curious to see people saying you can’t be a police officer under provisions which hold police accountable for violating people’s rights.


  34. - Redbird Pundit - Friday, Jan 8, 21 @ 10:14 pm:

    “O-man. Wow, from many of the comments here, y’all make it sound like being a cop is an ignoble profession. smh”

    I couldn’t agree more. I would love to know what some of these people think a noble profession is? …… I don’t know why any one would want to be a cop today. It wouldn’t be worth the heads aches. I have more respect today for the men/women that want to put on the uniform.


  35. - MadCo - Saturday, Jan 9, 21 @ 1:23 am:

    FOP: “This will end law enforcement as we know it.” As others have noted, that is kinda the point of what the reformers are aiming for.

    With respect to discipline - I’m pretty much every jurisdiction in the state there is the potential, some may say the reality, that discipline is used by Chiefs, City Council’s, Mayor’s and those in leadership at the department to get even with those on the department who don’t agree with them, or weren’t on their political side, not necessarily because they truly deserved it. Protections for this will help improve law enforcement so anything that will encourage more abuse in that regard will end up having a negative effect on citizens down the line.


  36. - Pacman - Saturday, Jan 9, 21 @ 7:31 am:

    Taking away qualified immunity rights will cause the Police to shut down. They will adopt the mentality of do nothing, do nothing wrong.


  37. - PublicServant - Saturday, Jan 9, 21 @ 11:38 am:

    === They will adopt the mentality of do nothing, do nothing wrong. ===

    Then they will be fired, and many, many others will line up to be police, along side of the vast majority of the good cops who remain on the job.


  38. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jan 13, 21 @ 7:10 pm:

    “A key piece of the caucus’s criminal justice reform plan is eliminating cash bail, which proponents argue disproportionately affects low-income people of color who are awaiting trial.”

    Why can’t people of color afford bail? Maybe we should address that first instead of weakening laws on public safety.

    Income inequality is an issue that the ruling class of billionaires always seems to avoid somehow.


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