About the ILBC's Justice Reform Bill

On January 13th, the Illinois General Assembly passed a landmark omnibus bill (HB 3653) on criminal justice championed by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) and grassroots community groups across the state. This momentous policy package would take crucial steps in advancing racial equity in Illinois by enacting targeted reforms to anti-Black systems of law enforcement and mass incarceration. 

What Would HB 3653 Do?

The ILBC’s policy package would enact long overdue reforms to Illinois racially targeted law enforcement, court, and prison systems. Key elements of the legislation are listed below.

Accountability for Police Misconduct

HB 3653 would promote accountability for systemic police misconduct by:

  • Legally prohibiting officers from lying and withholding information during investigations of on-duty police misconduct
  • Requiring police departments to permanently retain all officer conduct records
  • Removing the requirement that public misconduct complaints against must be accompanied by a sworn affidavit, allowing for anonymous complaints
  • Establishing a Qualified Immunity Task Force to propose policies to hold officers liable for wrongdoing

Regulation of Police Use of Force

HB 3653 would regulate police use of force by:

  • Enacting restrictions on deadly force, including chokeholds, to a more narrow category of circumstances
  • Requiring all officers to intervene to prevent another officer from using any unauthorized force and to render medical assistance when a civilian is injured by officer use of force

Limitation of Police Militarization

HB 3653 would curb police militarization by:

  • Prohibiting the use of a wide range of crowd control weapons against demonstrators
  • Banning the purchase and use of certain military equipment by law enforcement and requiring police departments to publish notice of property requests from a military equipment surplus program

Establishment of Attorney General Powers to Enforce Police Reform

HB 3653 would establish Attorney General powers to enforce police reform by:

  • Authorizing the Illinois Attorney General to investigate and enforce civil actions to address patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing by local and state agencies

Enhancement of Police Officer Certification

HB 3653 would more effectively monitor and regulate police conduct by:

  • Enhancing the police certification procedures to require more robust background checks, ongoing review of disqualifying conduct, and documenting continuous training completed
  • Increasing the list of misdemeanors for automatic decertification and creating a discretionary decertification process, and expanding the officer misconduct database

Reforms to Charging and Sentencing Laws

HB 3653 would take preliminary steps to reverse Illinois’ overly punitive charging and sentencing practices by:

  • Prohibiting individuals from being charged with “resisting arrest” when there is no underlying charge that led to the arrest
  • Limiting the application of the “felony murder rule”
  • Prohibiting incarceration for individuals charged with non-violent Class 3 or Class 4 felony offenses projected to stay in prison less than 4 months
  • Outlawing the use of Mandatory Supervised Release for a Class 3 and Class 4 felonies unless determined necessary by a validated risk assessment
  • Abolishes Mandatory Minimum for cases involving drug possession, retail theft, or driving on a revoked license due to unpaid financial obligations or when the court finds that the defendant does not pose a risk to public safety
  • Prohibiting individuals from being charged with “resisting arrest” when there is no underlying charge that led to the arrest

Protecting the Health of People who are Incarcerated

HB 3653 would take preliminary steps to promote the health of people who are incarcerated by:

  • Requiring investigation and reporting when an incarcerated individual dies while in custody.
  • Requiring that timely medical treatment be provided to incarcerated individuals.
  • Ensuring people who are caring for their newborn while incarcerated have access to their child, necessary hygiene products, and educational materials. Requiring corrections officers be trained regarding health issues relating to people who are pregnant and parenting while incarcerated.

End License Suspensions for Unpaid Fines and Fees

HB 3653 would eliminate drivers license suspensions for failure to pay traffic, red light camera, and speed camera tickets.

Limitations on Prison Gerrymandering Practices

HB 3653 would limit prison gerrymandering practices in Illinois by:

  • Requiring that incarcerated people be counted as residents of their last known address - instead of their correctional facility - for purposes of legislative and representative redistricting

Promotion of Pretrial Freedom

HB 3653 would effectively end Illinois’ cash bail process by:

  • Establishing that a defendant must only be imprisoned when it is determined that a defendant poses a “real and present threat to the safety of any person or persons,” or has a high likelihood of willful flight, effective 2023.

What's Next for HB 3653?

In order to ensure that HB 3653 becomes law in Illinois, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) is mobilizing community members across the state to demand that Governor Pritzker sign the bill in its entirety, without further delay.