(The Center Square) – A group of Republican lawmakers says they are concerned about violent crime in Illinois and want to introduce a package of legislation to do something about it.
The legislation includes criminal justice changes that is aimed at keeping violent offenders in custody while providing law enforcement with additional resources. Among other bills introduced in the package, the “Fund the Police Act” would provide an infusion of resources to criminal justice and mental health programs through a $100 million state appropriation.
At a news conference Wednesday in Springfield, state Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Andalusia, a firefighter and medic, said the measures include criminal justice changes that would keep violent offenders off the streets, offenders he keeps dealing with repeatedly.
“What’s getting more and more prominent is the fact that we are going on these calls time and time again with violence caused by the same people,” said Anderson. “Recidivism is at an all-time high.”
The legislation also includes measures to reduce the trafficking of illegal guns, by imposing a 10-year minimum sentence for those who sell or give a firearm to a convicted felon.
Illinois state Rep. Justin Slaughter and state Sen. Robert Peters both spearheaded legislation called the SAFE-T Act, which ended the use of cash bail, put stricter limits on police use of force, and allows judges to override sentencing minimums in some criminal cases.
In an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, the two said Republicans’ hollow calls to get tough on crime will not make people or police any safer.
“Public safety in cities such as Chicago is complicated and challenging. The last thing we need is a phony 'law and order' campaign masquerading as reform. Lives are on the line, including the lives of police officers, who are facing more gunfire today than ever before, due in part to right-wing resistance to common-sense gun safety laws.”
State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said the package was introduced to the criminal law committee but none of the bills were assigned to a committee hearing. The group planned to file the legislation in hopes of getting passage before the end of the fall veto session.
“Senate President Harmon recently noted that he accomplished his goals for the last sessions. What wasn’t accomplished? Making the people of Illinois safer,” Rose said. “I am demanding a full vote of the Senate on each of the bills in the veto session.”
State Sen. Don Dewitte, R-St. Charles, said making the streets safe from violent crime should not be a a political issue.
“A spike in violent crime is not a Republican or a Democratic issue,” he said. “It affects every resident of this state.”