The Workers Center for Racial Justice celebrates today's passage of the landmark omnibus bill 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, justice, and liberation in Illinois by enacting targeted reforms to anti-Black systems of law enforcement and mass incarceration.
WCRJ applauds the ILBC for its leadership, vision, and responsiveness to Black-led community organizations in crafting the omnibus bill. The ambition and strength of this historic racial justice legislation attests to the unassailable imperative that public policy be led by the constituents and elected officials most impacted by the issues at hand. Guided by community input, the ILBC’s policy package would enact long overdue reforms to anti-Black systems of policing, and revise overly punitive and racially targeted sentencing laws.
Members and supporters of WCRJ played an instrumental role in shaping and advancing the omnibus bill on criminal justice. Since the nationwide uprisings for Black Liberation began this summer, WCRJ has mobilized thousands of local residents to participate in direct actions and policy advocacy with Illinois lawmakers on issues pertaining to racialized police violence and mass incarceration. Our members have spoken with Illinois legislators, filed witness slips, placed phone calls, and sent more than 40,000 emails urging action on key racial justice legislation.
During the lame duck session, WCRJ provided committee hearing testimony, policy analysis, and legislative language in order to ensure that the omnibus bill reflected community demands. Through our efforts, WCRJ secured the following victories:
The omnibus bill adopts key police accountability language drafted by WCRJ, which would outlaw the destruction of police conduct records, and prohibit unjust barriers to filing officer complaints, such as the sworn affidavit requirement currently in place in many police departments.
In partnership with CHANGE Illinois, WCRJ championed a provision to abolish Illinois’ system of prison gerrymandering, ensuring more racially equitable federal funding and democratic representation in government.
As a member of the Chicago Coalition to End Money Bond, WCRJ supported the fight to end the racialized practice of wealth-based pretrial incarceration in Illinois.
Our work is not over. WCRJ members now call upon Governor J.B. Pritzker to sign the ILBC’s omnibus bill into law. And in the upcoming session of the Illinois General Assembly, we will mobilize community members behind a policy agenda to abolish systems of police impunity, end extended term sentencing, and invest in equitable access to employment for formerly incarcerated Illinoisans.
WCRJ would like to thank Senator Elgie Sims, Representative Justin Slaughter, Representative Carol Ammons, and Representative Kambium Buckner for their exemplary leadership in guiding this landmark legislation. We also acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the many allied grassroots organizations who fought tirelessly to secure other major victories in the policy package.
Most importantly, WCRJ extends our deepest gratitude and respect to the tens of thousands of local residents who participated in the political uprising for Black Liberation this summer. This historic expression of Black community power catalyzed the political will needed to pass this historic legislation.