Local State Lawmakers React to Signing of Criminal Justice Reform Bill

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday signed House Bill 3653, the sweeping criminal justice reform proposal passed by the General Assembly during lame-duck session earlier this year. Several area lawmakers issued statements regarding the signing:

State Sen. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro), a vocal opponent to the legislation:

“By signing House Bill 3653, the Governor made a statement to the citizens of Illinois that he doesn’t value the democratic process or the safety of Illinoisans. This was a bill that was rammed through the General Assembly without proper public input or vetting, completely disregarding the process by which a real representative government should be operating. While debating criminal justice issues during subject-matter hearings, opponents pointed to public danger after public danger if these changes to law enforcement were to take effect. Then at the 11th hour, with only limited debate, House Bill 3653 was ramrodded through the General Assembly. Now that we’ve had the past few weeks to truly break down the hundreds of pages contained in this proposal, it has become evident this is a law that will protect criminals, threaten our law enforcement community and endanger public safety. It’s shameful. The Governor’s actions today make one thing clear—he doesn’t care about or value a safer Illinois.”

State Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) :

“I do not support the actions taken by our Governor today to enact a law that will make it harder for police officers to do their jobs. I stand in support of my local law enforcement officers and agencies who have vocally opposed this legislation. House Bill 3653 was rammed through the General Assembly in a closed-door process that left Republican lawmakers, law enforcement officials and members of the public out of the discussion. We cannot pass meaningful reforms if the process is one-sided. Now that we’ve had adequate time to work through the nearly 800-page bill, we know that it makes sweeping changes to the criminal justice system of our state, endangers our communities by eliminating cash bail and places an unfunded financial burden on our local police forces. We had a real opportunity to work together to pass substantive reforms to provide for a safer Illinois. We can achieve so much more for our state if we work together. It’s disappointing and frustrating.”

117th District State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton):

“The changes contained in this massive law of sweeping criminal justice reforms is full of double definitions of important terms, ambiguous language, and provisions that will most certainly have a chilling effect on our ability to recruit and retain good police officers. I have been appointed to serve as the Illinois House Republicans’ spokesperson for the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee, the same committee HB 3653 originated from. In my new role, I will be working diligently with police advocates and members of the law enforcement and judiciary to correct flaws in this newly signed law that make Illinoisans and particularly police officers less safe. I am particularly concerned that the end of cash bail will lead to repeat offenders having carte blanch to continue to commit crimes without ever facing consequences. HB 3653 was a rushed bill, passed in the middle of the night on the last day of the 101st General Assembly. The process that was followed to get to today’s signing of major criminal justice and police reforms is the wrong way to treat the law enforcement community and comes at the expense of the future safety of the people of Illinois.”

118th District State Representative Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis):

“As a member of the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee, I was the lead for House Republicans in questioning the sponsor of HB 3653 on the day it passed,” Windhorst said. “I voted no on the bill because there were too many flaws in the bill’s language, the process shut out the public, and the changes in the law will make the public and police officers less safe. The Senate passed HB 3653 as amended at 5:00 o’clock in the morning. The House passed it six hours later in the waning moments of the 101st General Assembly. Crafting strong public policy requires sufficient time for debate and doing the hard work of bringing all interested stakeholders to the table. That did not happen with this bill. I disagree strongly with Governor Pritzker’s irresponsible decision to move forward with signing this legislation, even though he knows there are major problems that exist in the law. Even supporters of the legislation acknowledge that future legislation will be necessary to correct some of the more problematic parts of the HB 3653 that was signed into law. As I will remain a member of the Illinois House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee for the 102nd General Assembly, I will work diligently to make sure the flaws in this newly signed law get corrected. We must do the difficult work required to fix this law so Illinoisans can be confident that police officers have the tools they need to keep the public safe, and that police officers are not hampered in doing their job so that they can continue to protect and serve our communities.”