Back in January of this year, a lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly passed a “sweeping” Criminal Justice Reform Bill HB3653. The bill that was passed would be fully implemented through 2025. Law enforcement was not consulted and the mere fact that this bill was passed without much debate or scrutiny disproves the bill’s sponsors who claim otherwise.

HB 3653 has been a disaster and has likely contributed to an increase in crime and a statewide shortage of police officer candidates. It is the epitome of the “Law of unintended consequences”. The legislators who rammed this legislation through under the fog of Springfield politics surely had no idea that their good intentions would cause so much havoc.

The Fall Veto Session began last week in Springfield bringing legislators together to address some remaining issues or decide to “kick the can down the road” and address thornier issues later. One issue that may come up is the No Cash Bail System that was put into place by the enactment of HB 3653.

No Cash bail means that you commit certain crimes, you get processed, and then let go. No bail is required. This is nothing new to progressive judges and prosecutors who have decided that criminals are victims too. Now the legislature has institutionalized the practice of catch and release.

The crime rate is soaring and while it may be convenient to blame that on the Pandemic being lenient on criminals is a contributing factor along with the demonization of law enforcement. The City of Rockford and every other city across the country are having a hard time recruiting police officers and those who can retire are leaving in droves.

HB 3653 is a cluster bomb with parts of the bill activating at different times all through 2025. We need to urge our legislators to reform the reform bill and make sure that things like “qualified immunity” for police officers are not taken away. Simply put, qualified immunity allows police officer to do their very difficult and dangerous jobs knowing that they will be free from lawsuits as long as their act is not deemed criminal or negligent. If we are having a hard time recruiting police now just imagine what the rest of this bill could do.

 

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