Illinois lawmakers approve bill overhauling criminal justice system
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Illinois lawmakers approve bill overhauling criminal justice system

Illinois lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday overhauling the state’s criminal justice system in a sweeping reform.

The bill, HB 3653, makes it official misconduct for police officers to fail to use body cameras or intentionally misrepresent facts in police reports and investigations. Chokeholds are also banned, and the bill standardizes the reporting process for people who die in police custody.

Other changes include the elimination of cash bail and creating a mechanism by which a judge can let an arrested person go free before trial if the person is not deemed a danger or flight risk. The bill also addresses election reform, changing the way incarcerated people are counted in official population data.

The bill was passed an hour before a new General Assembly was inaugurated. It represents a significant victory for the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and will create major changes to Illinois’ current criminal justice laws.

While Democrats have lauded the measures, some Republicans and law enforcement officials have criticized the bill for overreach and lack of public review. Republican Representative Tom Weber called the bill “dangerous.”

HB 3653 now goes for final approval to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, who has indicated support for the bill.