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Cunningham passes measure to deter threats of school violence on social media

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019 04:02 PM

cunningham 051619SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a measure sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that would help deter false threats from being made against schools on social media.

“These false threats are terrifying for students, faculty and parents and they divert emergency response resources away from where they’re needed,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “There needs to be a mechanism that punishes bad actors and deters these scares from happening.”

Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of disorderly conduct when he or she calls 911 for the purpose of making a false complaint or providing false information, including a threat against a school.

House Bill 1579 expands the offense to include threats made on any platform, including social media. Current law only covers threats made by telephone or threats that specifically mention the use a bomb.

If an individual is convicted of transmitting a false threat, he or she must also pay for the costs of the emergency response the threat triggered.

In drafting the legislation, Cunningham worked closely with Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan, whose department heightened security measures at local schools several times last year due to threats on social media.

“According to law enforcement in my district, threats of violence against schools are increasingly coming through social media rather than the phone and make no mention of a bomb,” Cunningham said. “We’re in the social media age right now and this trend is only going to continue. We need to update our laws to reflect modern concerns.”

The measure further allows the court to order a mental health evaluation for a minor charged with disorderly conduct for transmitting a threat to a school.

“Threats to schools are often linked to mental health issues that need to be treated for the well-being of both the individual making the threat and those around them,” Cunningham said. “This provision will empower law enforcement and mental health professionals to work together to find the best course of action in dealing with a school threat.”

The measure passed the Senate unanimously.

Aquino-supported measure banning for-profit detention passes General Assembly

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019 03:59 PM

aquino 051619SPRINGFIELD –State and local governments would be banned from coordinating with companies who run for-profit civil detention centers under a bill sponsored by State Senator Omar Aquino (D-Chicago) that passed the General Assembly today.

“When there is a profit incentive attached to jailing people, real justice cannot exist,” said Aquino. “The current system values profits over justice, and as a legislator I need to do all I can to reverse that trend.”

House Bill 2040 would prohibit the State of Illinois, any unit of local government, county sheriff or state agency among others from coordinating the development of a private detention center.

Under current law, private criminal detention facilities are banned in Illinois, but civil detention centers such as immigration detainment facilities, mental health facilities and juvenile detention centers may still do business with state and local governments. House Bill 2040 would prohibit governments from dealing with these latter facilities.

“It is completely immoral to profit off of detaining people,” said Aquino. “That should not be a money-making scheme for the private sector. Instead, the State of Illinois should be rehabilitating people and preparing them to re-enter society as functioning, productive citizens.”

House Bill 2040 now awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Peters passes legislation banning private detention centers

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019 03:56 PM

peters 051619SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) banning privately owned detention centers was approved by the Senate.

“I’m glad that my Senate colleagues were able to recognize the serious problems caused when detention centers are run for profit and gave this bill enough support to pass,” Peters said. “I look forward to Gov. Pritzker signing this into law and putting an end to this inhumane practice once and for all.”

House Bill 2040 closes a loophole in the already existing ban on private prisons to extend the ban to civil detention centers as well. The bill was filed as a response to a vote the Board of Trustees in Dwight took in March which approved plans to build a 1,200-bed detention facility.

The bill passed through both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

Castro works to expand Illinois Human Rights Act

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2019 03:43 PM

castro 051619SPRINGFIELD– Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is pushing for stronger protections for Illinois workers.

House Bill 252 would expand the Illinois Human Rights Act to cover employers with one or more employees. The bill would give these employees a remedy under Illinois law for work-related discrimination and retaliation.

Currently, only employers with 15 or more employees are covered under the Act.

“Expanding the Illinois Human Rights Act is the right thing to do,” Castro said. “We have to ensure that every employee in the state has the same protections when it comes to discrimination in the work place. This is long overdue and I’m happy to see it passed both chambers.”

Employees would be able to bring claims for discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, marital status, military status and sexual orientation.

There are currently exceptions to the Act for certain human rights claims, including sexual harassment and discrimination based on pregnancy or disability.

House Bill 252 passed both chambers and now awaits action by the governor.

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