As Chicago and the nation saw the streets erupt in protest against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Illinois’ Black legislators promised the state would take action.
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus followed through on that promise this week, when legislators approved a package of measures aimed at eliminating systemic racism, including sweeping measures dealing with policing and criminal justice.
Among the reforms to law enforcement in the omnibus bill:
—A ban on police using chokeholds
—Prohibition of the use of some military-grade equipment for crowd control purposes
—The creation of a path for police to lose their certification
—A requirement that all police across the state wear body cameras by the year 2025
The bill’s criminal justice reforms include:
—An end to cash bail
—Adjustments in how prisoners are counted for legislative representation — something that will boost population, and therefore resources, in cities like Chicago versus the more rural areas that host prisons
—Special accommodations for pregnant inmates
—The right for detainees, upon arrest, to make several phone calls, and the right to retrieve phone numbers from their phone before it’s confiscated
Critics contend that small police departments may struggle to afford body cameras, and that an end to cash bail will mean that violent offenders will be let out to do more harm. A coalition of law enforcement groups are also voicing their displeasure with the measure’s passage. They say it will make Illinois less safe and are calling upon Gov. J.B. Pritzker to veto it.