Illinois takes steps towards criminal justice reform and constraining abuse by police.

When the police killed Laquan McDonald.

On Wednesday the Illinois General Assembly passed a criminal justice reform bill that is now waiting for Governor Pritzker’s signature.

Initiated by the GA’s Black Caucus the bill will end cash bail in our state.

Under the bill, criminal defendants no longer would be required, with limited exceptions, to post any cash bail to be released before trial. 

The system of cash bail has served to keep poor people locked up, often for long periods of time, without ever having been convicted of a crime.

I have argued for a while that the GA should have acted to remove due process language as issues of bargaining in police contracts. Studies have shown that left to collective bargaining, groups like the Fraternal Order of Police have forced the city to give in on language that protects cops from criminal prosecution.

I believe it is wrong to put the Mayor in the position of having to bargain with the cops over how the city responds to criminal acts by the police.

The bill doesn’t go as far as eliminating due process language from bargaining. But it takes steps to curtail the FOP’s power.

James Franczek, the attorney who represents the city, says the bill will strengthen the hand of the city in bargaining with the FOP that has gone on since 2017.

Franczek said that, at a minimum, (FOP President) Catanzara must accept the city’s economic offer — 10% over four years, nearly all of it retroactive — along with the disciplinary and accountability changes Lightfoot won from an independent arbitrator in a separate contract for police supervisors. 

That award allowed anonymous complaints against police supervisors to be investigated whenever the inspector general, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability or the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs determine there is “objective evidence” to support the claim.

To end the code of silence that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously acknowledged after court-ordered release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video in 2015, the city also is seeking language encouraging police officers to report wrongdoing by fellow officers and allow CPD to reward them for doing so. 

The Lightfoot administration also wants it noted in the official record whenever a police representative or attorney for the accused “interferes with or interrupts” interrogations. 

The city also wants to change the “lie-or-die” edict, known as Rule 14, to allow the city to consider all statements made by an accused officer — before and after he or she views a video of the incident — in determining whether that officers lied under oath.

For more on the new package of laws go to Injustice Watch.

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