Criminal Justice reform bill aims to end cash bail, expand police training, maintain police misconduct records

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- A bill in the Illinois General Assembly right now could change criminal justice policies and policing.

Lawmakers held a hearing on the amendments for House Bill 163 Saturday.

In the lame-duck session, state lawmakers discussed a new controversial criminal justice reform bill put forth by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

"This is a big problem and requires a bold response. House bill 163 as now amended is a bold response," said John Rakowski with the Illinois State Bar Association.

The proposed legislation includes ending cash bail, expanding police training on use of force and prohibiting chokeholds. It also requires the maintenance of police misconduct records and the use of special prosecutors in officer-involved deaths.

"This is a comprehensive, bold, transformative initiative to reform the way we look at criminal justice, violence reduction and police accountability across the state of Illinois," added Illinois Senator Elgie Sims.

Some law enforcement groups have been critical of the bill.

"We know we're not perfect. No profession or person is," said Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle. "We respectfully request that you not proceed with this legislation and allow us the opportunity to share our experiences in developing effective policy."

The Illinois State's Attorneys Association also expressing their disapproval, saying in a statement that they "will profoundly undermine public safety and overturn long-standing common-sense policies and practices in the criminal justice system."

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx come out in support of the legislation saying, "the spirit of Illinois House Bill 163 is meant to build trust in police departments across Illinois while addressing long-needed problems to alter unfair criminal justice policies rooted in systemic racism that result in our jails and prisons being disproportionately occupied by Black and Brown individuals."
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