(The Center Square) – A group of Illinois lawmakers say criminal justice legislation passed in Springfield is behind a spike in statewide crime.
The Reimagine Public Safety Act became law in January and includes police and sentencing reforms introduced by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
The crux of the legislation creates the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention to coordinate violence prevention effort and give funds to community organizations in the state’s most violent communities.
An amendment to the Safe-T Act mandated body cameras and changed use-of-force guidelines for law enforcement, created a new police certification system, expanded detainee rights and ended the use of cash bail in Illinois.
State Rep. Jackie Haas, R-Kankakee, represents the district where a Bradley police officer was recently shot and killed by a habitual offender.
“This is an example of what happens when we allow criminals leniency,” said Haas during a news conference Wednesday. “This is an example of what will continue to happen as a result of the Safe-T Act.”
The group is introducing House Resolution 598 which would repeal the Safe-T Act in Illinois.
Passage could be difficult. Last October, state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, unveiled a package of legislative proposals he called the “Fund the Police Act,” a response to advocates who called to defund the police after the police killing of George Floyd.
In addition to calling for $100 million in funding for police training, overtime, and retention incentives, Rose wanted to make sentencing guidelines stricter and simpler for criminals convicted of felony firearm offenses, and a life sentence for repeat offenders. The legislation was rejected by Democrats.
“They’ve only been calling for cracking down and being, you know, just slogans around law and order,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said regarding the GOP measures.
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst, R-Harrisburg, said one of the reasons crime is on the rise in Illinois is because criminals don’t fear the consequences.
“We have see basically for the last 5 or 6 years a stripping away of the tools of the criminal justice system that make crime unattractive,” Windhorst said.
Illinois House Black Caucus Chair Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, issued a statement Wednesday.
“Violence continues to be a real emergency for too many, which is why we remain committed to working with all stakeholders to implement solutions that invest resources where they are needed most,” Buckner said.
A request for comment from the two sponsors of the Safe-T Act, state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago and state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, went unanswered.