Radical Illinois criminal law overhaul bill passes in middle of the night

House Bill 163 is 764 pages, and the legislature received it at 3:04am. Debate began at 4:01am, with voting and passage at 4:49am. The Illinois House is currently in a lame duck session, and the legislation was introduced less than a week ago.

Illinois Senator Jason Plummer lamented the process, which he claims is detrimental to democracy.

“Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana told 13 WREX he only learned of this police reform bill a few days ago, a bill he opposes and calls ‘an attack on the commumity.’”

The Criminal Law Overhaul Bill, introduced by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, includes the Pretrial Fairness Act, which eliminates cash bail for most offenders who cannot afford it. Governor JB Pritzker is a huge proponent of eliminating cash bail.

The legislation also strips police of qualified immunity and requires the use of body cams while banning militaristic equipment. Without qualified immunity, any citizen is able to sue police officers for damages. Qualified immunity protects officers from frivolous lawsuits, but opponents argue that every plaintiff should have his day in court.

Illinois law enforcement personnel and elected officials raised red flags for the last week regarding the legislation, which opponents argue will lead to more criminals on the street and more violent crimes. A petition was started to stop the bill, which failed.

The bill prevents law enforcement officers from collective wage bargaining and also defunds most police municipalities by up to forty percent.

HB 163 also eliminates felony murder charges for accomplices to murder and broadens the definitions under which “civil rights issues” may be defined within law enforcement encounters.