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sims 012121CHICAGO — State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago), who spearheaded the state’s comprehensive criminal justice reform package, is joining a well-known union group, the Illinois AFL-CIO, in disproving misinformation about House Bill 3653.

“Following dozens of hours of testimony during the fall months, I was proud to spearhead this measure to bridge the racial and socioeconomic divide in our criminal justice system, while keeping people safe,” Sims said. “There is a ton of misinformation about this legislation which says it will hinder the work of law enforcement officers — and that is simply not true. Most of the pieces of this measure are already in place at many law enforcement agencies.”

The bill does a number of things to help both law enforcement officers and at-risk communities. It amplifies law enforcement training standards and addresses officer wellness and mental health awareness.

It also bans the use of chokeholds and other extreme measures and improves de-escalation and mental health training. Additionally, while it requires the use of body cameras — it comes with an incentive.

“I support law enforcement and am eternally grateful for the brave men and women who protect us each day,” Sims said. “However, I also support at-risk and minority communities who face grave injustice and disparities solely because the color of their skin or the ZIP code in which they were born.”

No funding to police and sheriff’s departments will be reduced through Local Government Distributive Funds (LGDR), or in any other way. Union representation for law enforcement is also not at risk.

“The great majority of employees in the criminal justice system serve their communities with honor and diligence in challenging and often dangerous jobs,” said Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “The Illinois AFL-CIO and affiliated unions worked with Senator Sims and other legislators to ensure fundamental collective bargaining rights and qualified immunity were preserved.”

 

A previous version of the bill House Bill 163, had a number of policies that were not part of the final measure after hearing concerns from stakeholders including organized labor.

The final measure does not modify or remove protections to allow police departments or officers to be sued, it does not change or take away fundamental collective bargaining rights, and it does not prevent a judge from revoking pretrial releases.

Furthermore, it does not alter prison time for people who are serving for heinous crimes nor does it allow those that are charged with a serious offense and are a risk to themselves or the community be released.

 

The measure passed both chambers last week and now awaits the governor’s signature for final approval. Governor JB Pritzker has publicly pledged his support for the measure.