Sweeping Criminal Justice Reforms Pass House

Jan 13, 2021

Illinois lawmakers passed sweeping changes to the state’s criminal justice system.  



The Illinois House followed the state Senate to approve a stripped down set of reforms from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. It includes changes to police certification, the use of force and the cash bail system. The bill now goes to Governor J.B. Pritzker.

The original package drew early opposition from members of law enforcement including Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana. 


“This isn’t against law enforcement, OK. It's against the community, protecting the community, the victims’ rights and to keep you safe, and have you know, be able to function in society, ” Caruana said.


The latest legislation would establish statewide standards for use of force. It would eventually require police to wear body cameras and a transition to ending the current cash bail system by 2023. 


An earlier iteration included eliminating qualified immunity for officers in situations where they violate rights set out by the Illinois Constitution. That provision has since been dropped.


State Representative Maurice West noted there are no provisions in the plan to “defund” police departments. The Rockford Democrat said the ultimate goal is to empower communities. 


  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.