SPRINGFIELD, IL - House Bill 3653, introduced by Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D) Illinois 17th District, outlines provisions aimed at better police training and accountability. Among those provisions are a ban on the use of chokeholds, increased training in crisis intervention, more mental health screening for officers, and requirements that officers submit data to an FBI database on the use of force. Whistleblower protections are increased and the right to make phone calls and access their personal contacts before police questioning is codified.
Detainees, prisoners and all those who interact with police officers will have the expectation of prompt medical care while in custody, with special accommodations made for pregnant women.
Charges of resisting arrest must cite a justification for the origin of arrest that was allegedly resisted against under the measure as well. The purchase of military equipment like .50 caliber rifles and tanks by police departments would also be banned.
Courts will also see changes under the legislation including an end to the practice of cash bail as well as an end to revoking drivers licenses for nonpayment of fines.
The changes are a question of accountability, transparency and humanity, said John Rakowski of the Illinois State Bar Association in his testimony in favor of the legislation. He stead that the structural problems in the criminal justice system require a bold response.
“This Bill is.a bold response,” Rakowski said. “Now is not a time for incrementalism.”
The wide-ranging legislation came about in the months following the tragic death of George Floyd and increased calls among citizens and activists for a comprehensive approach to reforming the criminal justice system.
Sims and other members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus lead the effort in the Illinois General Assembly by convening nine public hearings in the months following the demonstrations of the summer of 2020. In all, Sims lead more than 30 hours of committee hearings soliciting input from law enforcement professionals, trial lawyers, prosecutors, community members and many other groups.
“A measure this transformative would not be possible without the heightened interest and vocal support of Illinoisans whose consciences have been shaken by years of misconduct without meaningful consequences,” Sims said. “Change, when it comes, always seems as if it has come too late but I know that our successes here today are not an end, but a beginning to uplifting our communities and better supporting law-enforcement in ways that improve our criminal justice system.”
House bill 3653 passed the Illinois House and awaits the governor’s signature to become law. Once signed, it will be effective immediately.