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Criminal Law

  • Raoul: New criminal justice reform laws build on data-driven, commonsense approaches

    Sen RaoulSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) lauded  the signing of several criminal justice reform measures he sponsored this year as part of a larger push for commonsense, data-driven approaches to law enforcement, sentencing, incarceration and the reintegration of ex-offenders.

    “Illinois is again pushing forward as a pioneer of criminal justice reform – because it saves money, because it saves lives and communities and because it’s the right thing to do,” Raoul said. “These new laws on juvenile justice, expungement, access to licensed professions and sex offender registration policies will help bring the realities of criminal justice in line with its aims of genuine public safety and lasting rehabilitation.”

  • Scott Bennett appointed to lead Senate committee on Statues of Limitation

    053116CM1192RCHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) has been tasked with leading the Senate’s committee on Statues of Limitation. The focus will be on evaluating statutes of limitation for felony criminal sexual abuse and sex crimes against children.

    Possible issues with Illinois’ current statutes came to light due to developments involving former Republican U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who admitted in court that he sexually abused teenage boys when he was a wrestling coach in Yorkville.

    “The committee will take some time to study and assess pending legislation to figure out whether they are fair and essential,” Bennett said. “It’s important for government to evolve with the needs of the people.”

  • Sen. Cunningham discusses SB2221

    Senator Cunningham (D-Chicago) discusses his proposal to ensure that DNA testing taken after reported sexual assaults are sent to the proper labs for testing.


  • Harmon law allows Cook County drug field tests

    harmon pawnshopSPRINGFIELD – In 2010, Cook County released more than 5,000 defendants accused of drug-related crimes after determining there was no probable cause for their arrests. Many had been sitting in Cook County jail for more than 25 days awaiting their probable cause hearing. Each day these men and women sat in jail cost county taxpayers $143 – or more than $3,000 for a 25-day stay. It cost them and their families even more from lost time at work and the anguish of having a loved one in jail. Many of these offenders came from low-income families that could not afford to post bail.

    Why? Because law enforcement agencies in Cook County send recovered substances to the State Crime Lab to determine whether they are in fact drugs, which takes weeks. Police in every other county use a simple field drug test that costs little more than $1, which could have dramatically reduced the cost to Cook County and the suffering of these people and their families.

    The plan championed by Harmon creates a pilot program in Chicago to perform field drug tests for marijuana, cocaine and heroin. If it is successful, the field testing program could be expanded to the whole county. Establishing field drug testing in Cook County could also reduce pressure on the state crime lab, which currently analyzes all suspected drugs from the state’s most populous area.

    “Cook County deserves the opportunity to save taxpayer money and reduce prison crowding,” said State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the measure’s sponsor. “This program works in every other county in Illinois. I have high hopes that it will work here, cutting costs and reducing unnecessary jail time.”

    The legislation is House Bill 356. It takes effect immediately.

  • Martinez helps the wrongly arrested

    martinez 73015SPRINGFIELD — Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) sponsored legislation this year that would allow arrest records of individuals who are wrongly arrested because of mistaken identity to be deleted without the person having to file a petition for expungement.

    Today, Martinez’s proposal became law.

    “Individuals who were mistakenly arrested should not have difficulty clearing their names,” Martinez said. “We need to make it as easy as possible for them to get their reputation back and move on with their lives.”

    Prior to the new law, the Crime Identification Act allowed individuals who were mistakenly arrested but not charged to seek expungement of their records. However, they were required to pay a fee and file a petition.

    This will now change.

    Under Martinez’s legislation, a police chief, county sheriff or state’s attorney will be able to request an investigation into whether or not a person was wrongly arrested. If a mistake was made, that individual’s records must be deleted from the law enforcement agency’s records that made the arrest.

    House Bill 169 is effective January 1, 2016.

  • Historic bipartisan accomplishments in spite of negativity

    bodycams mrWith so much attention drawn to the state’s ongoing budget impasse, historic accomplishments are too often overlooked.

    This year, lawmakers in both chambers and from both sides of the aisle did find compromise on a number of issues to improve the lives of Illinoisans and the safety, health and economic future of our state.

    Springfield’s NPR radio station, WUIS, covers developments at the Capitol. Recently, the station published an article looking past the friction to find positive achievements during the 2015 legislative session. Their story includes an interview with Charlie Wheeler, director of UIS’ Public Affairs Reporting program, and Jamey Dunn, Editor of Illinois Issues. Their analysis focused on achievements in criminal justice, including Senate Bill 1304, a comprehensive law enforcement package expected to be a model for reform across the US.

  • Landmark policing reforms become law

    hunter bodycamsSPRINGFIELD – New legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago, 3) supported the bipartisan push for officer-worn body camera protocols.

    “Law enforcement reforms help protect the safety of both officers on duty and citizens. Our communities are stronger when there is trust and practices in place to create accountability,” Hunter said.

    The proposal, Senate Bill 1304, would make Illinois one of the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The law implements the following recommendations:

    • Requiring independent investigations of all officer-involved deaths
    • Improving mandatory officer training in areas, such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with persons with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault
    • Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations
    • Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents
    • Establishing a Commission on Police Professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and certification of law enforcement officers


    The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.

    The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:

    • Cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.
    • Cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.
    • Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:
    • Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
    • “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.
    • Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.


    The law goes into effect on January 1.

  • Trotter backs policing reform law

    trotter bodycamsSPRINGFIELD – Legislation creating law enforcement reforms was signed into law today. State Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago 17) supported the bipartisan effort to create new body camera protocols, making Illinois one the first states in the nation to adopt the recommendations of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

    “Now, more than ever, Illinois needs to lead the country in pushing for the use of body cameras by officers. Reforming law enforcement practices will go a long way in reducing the distrust between the public and the police,” Trotter said.

    Senate Bill 1304, sponsored by Chicago Democrats Representative Elgie R. Sims, Jr. and Senator Kwame Raoul, implements several recommendations of the federal task force by:

    • Requiring independent investigations of all officer-involved deaths
    • Improving mandatory officer training in areas, such as the proper use of force, cultural competency, recognizing implicit bias, interacting with persons with disabilities and assisting victims of sexual assault
    • Creating a statewide database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during misconduct investigations
    • Improving data collection and reporting of officer-involved and arrest-related deaths and other serious incidents
    • Establishing a Commission on Police Professionalism to make further recommendations on the training and certification of law enforcement officers

    The measure also bans the use of chokeholds by police and expands the Traffic Stop Statistical Study –which provides insight into racial disparities in motor vehicle stops and searches—to include pedestrians whom officers “stop and frisk” or temporarily detain for questioning.

    The state is set to become the first state with standards and protocols for the use of body cameras by any of the state’s law enforcement agencies. These policies include:

    • Cameras must be turned on at all times when an officer is responding to a call for service or engaged in law enforcement activities.
    • Cameras can be turned off at the request of a crime victim or witness, or when an officer is talking with a confidential informant.
    • Recordings are exempt from FOIA with some exceptions:
    • Recordings can be “flagged” if they have evidentiary value in relation to a use of force incident, the discharge of a weapon or a death.
    • “Flagged” recordings may be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act; however, in certain sensitive situations, such as a recording of a sexual assault, victim consent is required prior to disclosure.
    • Recordings must be retained for 90 days or, if “flagged,” for two years or until final disposition of the case in which the recording is being used as evidence.

    The commission will be created immediately. The bill goes into effect on January 1.

  • Raoul, Sims, Anthony announce signing of landmark law enforcement reforms (AUDIO)

    raoul copreform

  • Dangerous gun-shaped phone cases must be banned: Silverstein

    triggercaseCHICAGO  – State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) introduced a measure in the Senate last week to ban replica firearms in response to  the latest trend of mobile phone cases shaped like handguns.

    “Gun violence in our country is out of control and accidental shootings take and destroy lives,” Silverstein said. “The development of mobile phone cases – as well as lighters and cameras – shaped like handguns is a dangerous, terrible idea. It is only a matter of time before a replica gun is mistaken for a real gun and its owner is shot.”

    Law enforcement officials are warning these items look authentic and may result in the shooting of someone carrying a gun-shaped phone case.