The following statement can be attributed to Khadine Bennett, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:

“Reforming criminal justice and demanding meaningful police accountability are critical priorities for communities and people that are most harmed by the broken policing and criminal legal systems. In Illinois, like in many other states, those most harmed are Black and Brown people. 

Today, the Black Caucus’ Justice Pillar, House Bill 3653, sponsored by Senator Elgie Sims and Representative Justin Slaughter, was approved by the Illinois House and Senate chambers, and is prepared for the Governor’s signature. 

Our system of policing does not demand the appropriate level of accountability – resulting in mistreatment of too many. Massive, national protests pointed out this harm throughout 2020. Likewise, our criminal legal system relies too much on incarceration and punishment and does not provide appropriate opportunity for diversion and rehabilitation.

While there is still work to do, the end of the last seven days of lame duck session has put us on a path that can lead to meaningful change.

The bill includes components of police accountability and criminal legal system reform policy changes that advocates, including the ACLU of Illinois, have been working to move forward for years, and pushing non-stop since the summer. Among other important ACLU priorities, the bill removes an antiquated and unnecessary requirement that those making complaints against police sign a sworn statement. And, the bill addresses the real harm of our bail system which keeps people detained simply because of their economic status.  

We applaud Senator Sims, Representative Slaughter and the entire legislative Black Caucus for their leadership in this area and their commitment to these issues. They embraced the need for change and were committed to moving this legislation through the General Assembly. 

We are excited about the changes made today and look forward to continuing to partner with legislators to continue our work to create a policing and criminal legal system that ensures accountability and reflects a commitment to rehabilitation and restoration over penalties. That work will go on after today.”