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HB 3653 bill signingMembers of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton Monday to celebrate the signing of House Bill 3653, a historic measure to advance fairness and equity in the criminal justice system, into law.

“These landmark reforms begin a process of building trust through accountability and addressing elements of our criminal justice system that contribute to mass incarceration and the unjust criminalization of people of color,” said state Rep. Sonya Harper, Joint Chair for the ILBC. “These measures begin to build a smarter system where sentencing and bail decisions are based on the safety of the public rather than the wealth and skin color of the defendant, and where bad actors in our police departments are held accountable while those who serve with integrity have the resources they need.”

“These reforms should merely be the first steps we take to transform criminal justice in Illinois,” said state Sen. Elgie Sims,D-Chicago, the chief sponsor of the law in the state senate. “We must reimagine accountability. We must reimagine transparency. We must reimagine incarceration. These reforms are a beginning.”

“This historic moment is the result of a monumental effort on the part of countless people, from those who testified during the 30 hours of public hearings on these issues, to those who have pushed for some of these reforms for years, and especially to the Illinoisans who signaled their support,” Sims said. “I thank them for lifting up their voices and never giving up, and I thank Gov. Pritzker for making these measures the law of the land. The journey continues.”

“HB 3653 is a bold and transformative initiative that comprehensively brings fairness and equity to our criminal justice system,” said state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, who shepherded the measure through the state house. “By effectively addressing police reform, mass incarceration and violence reduction, HB 3653 enhances public safety for all communities.”

“Today is a historic first step toward winning real safety and justice in our communities,” said Black Caucus Senate Chair state Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago. “The road to this point has been long and has been filled with difficulties, but after we celebrate today’s victory, we must keep up the fight. The public health, economic and systemic racism crises are still impacting our lives on a daily basis.”

“This is a great day for our community, and it also holds a special place for me personally. Long before I joined the Senate, I was a community organizer, and one of the major issues I fought for was ending money bond,” said Peters. “It’s a bit surreal to be standing here today to see that the fight paid off and money bond will soon be abolished at a state level, and it inspires me to keep up advocating for our communities. At the end of the day this isn’t about me, but all of us, working toward making everyone in this state whole.”

“The signing of HB 3653 is monumental. We built a broad coalition, led by advocates and activists, to push to create real reform. This legislation is a step forward to address generations of systemic inequity. We’ve called this criminal justice reform, but the truth is that we don’t actually have a criminal justice system because we have seen no justice,” said Black Caucus House Chair state Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago. “No justice for victims, no justice for the criminally accused and criminally involved, and no justice for the communities that have been left in the wake. We have a criminal legal system that focuses more on convictions, sentencing and profits than on addressing deficiencies, people and correction. We now have an opportunity to lead the nation by showing what a more just, equitable, transparent and accountable system looks like. It’s time for all of us to turn the corner and push Illinois in the right direction.”

“I was touched when I heard from so many people from every walk of life that enough was enough during the Black Lives Matter movement protests last spring. That spurred me, as chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, to initiate our four-pillar policy reform process,” said Senate Majority Leader Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood, who served as Black Caucus chair from January 2015 to January 2021. “I am so proud that we have taken this historic step to rid Illinois of systemic racism. As a Black woman and a mother, I look forward to a day when our children can turn to the police with trust instead of fear, and this law is the first step we need to get there.”