FILE - state Sen. John Curran, R-Lemont

State Sen. John Curran, R-Lemont, in Springfield in 2019.

(The Center Square) – With the signing of House Bill 3653, Illinois is on the way to ending cash bail. But there are already calls for changing the controversial law Gov. J.B. Pritzker enacted Monday that brings sweeping changes to the state’s system of justice.

There are a slew of changes the governor enacted Monday. The bill he signed was championed by the Legislative Black Caucus to bring reforms it said would address systemic racism in law enforcement.

State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, joined the governor in Chicago for the bill signing Monday. He said it’s historic that they’re ending cash bail as a state, something he said brings equity to the state’s system of justice by not locking up poor minorities suspected of crimes.

“We’re ending a system of cash bond that stands at the intersection of race, class and gender,” Peters said. “Wealth-based detention will be gone in Illinois by 2023.”

State Sen. John Curran, R-Lemont, who was a prosecutor in Cook County for years, said the cash bond provision reflects what New York city did “that has been replete with burdens” and brought “additional impairment to public safety.

“This we need to address, we need to broaden that detention statute,” Curran said. “I really wish they would have engaged us on this.”

Supporters of the measure said there were nine public hearings and 30 hours of testimony over the summer, and it wasn’t rushed.

And while he said there are some good elements to the expansive bill, Curran noted it barely passed both chambers in the final hours of the previous General Assembly for a reason.

“We need to get back to the table,” Curran said after the bill was signed into law. “There are significant fixes to this piece of legislation, or we are putting the public at greater risk and that is not an equitable solution or step forward for the state of Illinois.”

The Illinois Municipal League crafted a memo Monday with suggested changes, including delayed implementation of various provisions, creating task forces to review others, and even suggesting repeal of various sections.

"Many provisions of the new Act include mandates and compliance requirements placed upon municipal officials and law enforcement," IML Executive Director Brad Cole said. "It is critical that municipal officials fully understand these provisions and how they will impact municipal governments, the law enforcement personnel they employ and their communities."

Law enforcement groups have said there are loads of unintended consequences.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul acknowledged there’s more work ahead.

“And I want to state very clearly that I remain committed to working with law enforcement partners, legislators, the governor's office and advocates on any cleanup language on any oversight or unintended consequences,” Raoul said.

One unintended consequence Illinois Sheriffs’ Association’s Jim Kaitschuk said is starting July 1, police won’t be able to remove someone for trespassing on private property. Instead, police can issue a citation.

“If they’re not causing a threat to you or your family or themselves, they're gonna stay in your backyard,” Kaitchsuk said. “I don’t think that’s what people are looking for.”

Law enforcement also had issues with the use of force restrictions and elements that allow for anonymous complaints against law enforcement agencies and officers. Kaitschuk said that’s ripe for abuse and could drain resources.

There may be a window for changes when the legislature gets back to work, but now that it’s law, there’s no guarantee, he said.

“Is there going to be a willingness to make changes to things, now that they’re in law,” Kaitschuk said. “Is anyone going to walk them back? I don’t know.”

Lawmakers canceled all session days this month. It’s unclear when they’ll return to Springfield.


Staff Reporter

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.