Pritzker signs bill eliminating cash bail and requiring police body cameras

Illinois

WASHINGTON PARK, Ill. – The criminal justice reform bill signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Monday is hundreds of pages long. Some critics have concerns about what the full fallout from the legislation will be. Supporters say at the heart of the legislation is an effort to address a disparity involving jailed individuals who are poor.

The legislation eliminates cash bail in 2023.

The governor called the bill “a transformative step forward in Illinois‘ effort to lead the country in dismantling systemic racism.”

Pastor Charles Rogers of Mt. Calvary Church of God in Christ in Washington Park has been involved with organizations seeking to reform the cash bail system.

“Keep in mind, the judges still have the jurisprudence to decide whether or not to set the bond or allow people who have been accused to stay in, if they believe they are a danger to the community,” he said.

Critics include several law enforcement organizations. One immediate concern expressed involves a change in when officers can detain someone. They say an offense such as trespassing can no longer result in an individual being removed from the property unless a more serious crime has occurred.

“The best we can do is issue a summons to appear later and they can stay right there and do what they’re doing,” said Dave Parsons, Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.

Illinois Sheriffs Association Executive Director Jim Kaitschuk said a trespasser staring in a window could be given a summons but could not be arrested.

“It’s not an arrestable offense in and of itself,” he said.

Another provision raising concerns in the law enforcement community is a body camera mandate for officers taking affect in 2025.

Kaitschuk said many counties still don’t have enough personnel and wonder how the cost of body camera systems would be paid. He said many sheriff departments, “don’t have dashcams, they don’t have computers in their car, they don’t have enough money for uniforms, but we’re going to mandate they get body cams.”

Rogers believes the overall nature of the bill will lead to more just society. He said too many lives are ruined by spending time in jail awaiting trial.

“Once that you have been labeled a criminal, whether you’re incarcerated or being monitored through electronic surveillance, you have been relegated to second-class citizenship for pretty much the rest of your life,” he said.

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