* Press release…
Ugaste Condemns Unconscionable Process Behind Black Caucus Bill
SPRINGFIELD–On the heels of the Illinois Black Caucus’ police reform legislation passing at the eleventh hour of the 101st General Assembly, State Representative Dan Ugaste (R-Geneva) released the following statement:
“This police reform bill is the most hurtful to those who serve and protect us, and while I know that is not the intention behind it, words matter. The reality is that this 764 page bill—that the Republican caucus received in final form at 4:30am—will only pose a greater threat to public safety.
Despite my issues with the content included in this bill, I found the process behind it the most disturbing. With minimal collaboration and zero efforts put forth for bipartisanship, a rushed bill was pushed through in the literal last minutes of our General Assembly. The process matters. In the case of the Black Caucus, while their policy deserves consideration, they completed disrespected the legislative process. For my constituents back home who were maybe watching this debate live, it was hard to see what was actually happening on the house floor. The reality was this: our caucus was unable to pose questions to the bill’s sponsor, debate was cut off, and a vote was taken when it was convenient for the majority party to receive the needed votes for the bill to pass.
Up until 4am last night, I heard from record numbers of constituents, interest groups, and law enforcement members who emphasized their opposition to this measure. Their concerns varied but they were all were unified in their request that I oppose this bill. This was the easiest ‘no’ vote for me; I refuse to have the questions and concerns of my constituents be ignored.”
* Press release…
State Representative Deanne Mazzochi (R- Elmhurst) released the following statement upon the conclusion of the 101st General Assembly’s lame duck session:
“The events of the last few days highlight the brokenness of the legislative process in Springfield.
Comprehensive, lengthy, and sweeping bills were rammed through under both condensed process and truncated debate at the last minute of an outgoing General Assembly.
Rushing through the process doesn’t give the public and the various stakeholders enough time to vet legislation, voice their opinions, and engage in negotiations before it is voted on. The result of the last few days, and what many are going to pat themselves on the back for, is well-intentioned, but seriously problematic legislation.
All told, the consequences of these bills will ripple through every corner of the state for years to come; they contained thousands of pages that either amended or created hundreds of laws, yet the substance and specific text of these bills were given less than 48 hours for public input and legislative debate.
Meanwhile, we failed to address, to our great shame, some of the most needed relief for the people of Illinois. We didn’t address a plan to re-open schools, to wrest some semblance of power back from the Governor, to address the issues at IDES, etc and instead tried to shove through a billion dollar tax increase on already suffering small businesses, which thankfully not even some Democrats could stomach.
The 101st General Assembly ended in a manner which no one, regardless of party, should be proud of.”
* Press release…
State Representative Mike Murphy (R-Springfield) issued the following statement in response to the passage of a massive criminal justice overhaul bill in the waning moments of the 101st General Assembly. Amendment 2 to House Bill 3653 passed by a slim margin of 60-50 votes after only being compiled in the middle of the night.
“How can we have an open and honest debate about hundreds of pages of legislation if we barely have time to read it and the people of Illinois aren’t even allowed to engage in the discussion about legislation that will fundamentally change policing and public safety in the state?” questioned Murphy. “The short answer – we can’t! Preventing law enforcement, state’s attorney’s, victims’ rights advocates and others from being part of this discussion is an absolute travesty.
“Just as egregious as the language in the bill that will allow many violent felons to walk free before trial, was the handling of debate by the Democrat majority. It was an embarrassment and shows the true colors of their one-party rule. Law enforcement and public safety across our state were irreparably damaged today.”
* Meanwhile, from the other side…
The Illinois General Assembly today passed long-awaited public safety reforms — made possible by the leadership of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus — securing a victory that makes communities left behind by the criminal justice system safer. Among the sweeping changes in House Bill 163, the law includes reforms championed by the Alliance for Safety and Justice that prioritize proven approaches to rehabilitation, enacting more effective sentence credit policies that reduce recidivism and racial disparities. In addition, the approved legislation reduces barriers that crime victims face in accessing recovery services by removing eligibility restrictions for families and communities most impacted by crime and violence.
“With the passage of HB 163, the Illinois state legislature has shown national leadership by advancing the state’s commitment to improving public safety and justice,” said Aswad Thomas, managing director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice’s flagship program, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “By continuing to shift away from failed over-incarceration policies, prioritizing rehabilitation that stops cycles of crime, and lifting unnecessary barriers to victim services, Illinois has taken a crucial step towards connecting communities in greatest need to safety. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus has advanced a commitment to achieving safer communities, and we especially want to thank Senator Elgie Sims and Deputy Majority Leader Jehan Gordon-Booth, as well as Attorney General Kwame Raoul.”
“Too many Illinois families have experienced the pain of losing a loved one or watched their communities suffer - I’ve felt that pain and loss myself. But today, Illinois is helping lead the way in addressing the root causes of violence and trauma,” said Bertha Purnell, coordinator of the Chicago chapter for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. “For far too long, public safety policies have focused on over-incarceration, rather than prevention, rehabilitation, and victim services for communities most impacted by violence. Today, our elected officials affirmed that we must address trauma and rehabilitation to ensure healthier and safer lives for our children and families.”
HB 163 improves the Illinois Department of Corrections’ (IDOC) sentence credit program that provides opportunities for people who are incarcerated to earn time off their sentences through good conduct and participation in rehabilitative programs — proven to reduce recidivism and break cycles of crime. For years, this system has been undermined by inconsistency in its administration. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Alliance for Safety and Justice designed changes to this system that will reduce rates of recidivism, racial disparities, and rising costs. HB 163 included these changes that will:
• Reduce racial disparities and increase the ability for Black applicants to earn credit by refining how IDOC uses risk assessments in determining program eligibility;
• Increase the amount of time people can earn through rehabilitative programs;
• Modernize Earned Program Credits, providing uniform access to the program across the IDOC system and expanding eligibility to earn credits;
• Create a standard and fair process for IDOC to remove and restore sentence credits, including the implementation of behavioral incentives for people who have lost credits due to violations.
The approved legislation also takes several steps to expand access to victim services for survivors of crime in Illinois. Through the leadership of Illinois’ Attorney General, the Alliance for Safety and Justice helped design important changes to the state’s Crime Victim Compensation program. These reforms include:
• Extending overall time limits to file victims compensation applications from 2 years to 5 years.
• Expanded victim compensation program coverage to family members of crime survivors by recognizing non-traditional households and classifying children, spouses, and parents of victims to be victims in their own right.
• Increased victim compensation caps for funeral expenses, loss of support, and loss of earnings.
• Crime survivors currently on probation or parole will no longer be barred from eligibility for the victim compensation program.
• Removes barriers for survivors in the victim compensation application and cooperation process before receiving services.
The full text of the bill can be viewed here.