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Parts of IL Criminal Justice Reform Law Take Effect

As of July 1, 2021, the first parts of a sweeping criminal justice reform law are now effective. Gov. Pritzker signed the SAFE T Act back in February—along with a follow-up Trailer bill in early June—in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. 

The following are some of the major changes to Illinois’ criminal justice system in effect starting in July: 

  • Police officers must intervene if another officer uses unauthorized force or force that exceeds what is allowed. 

  • Chokeholds and any type of applied pressure that obstructs another person’s airway are banned. 

  • Officers have a duty to render aid or life-saving assistance I someone suffers an injury, including situations where the injury was caused by the officer’s own use of force. 

  • Officers cannot use chemical agents or irritants like pepper spray and tear gas in order to control a crowd before issuing an order for the crowd to disperse, unless officers are at risk of serious injury or death and there isn’t enough time for such warning(s). 

  • Officers cannot target rubber bullets and tasers at another person’s head, neck, chest, front pelvis, and groin. 

  • Police misconduct records must be maintained on a permanent basis. 

  • Law enforcement agencies must track and report mental-health crises, any use of force that involves serious injury or death, and any discharge of a firearm to the state. 

  • The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office must rescind driver’s license suspensions due to failure to pay a traffic ticket. 

Cash bail is set to be abolished by 2023, while police officers must be equipped with body cameras by 2025. Lawmakers said this staggered timeline gives the courts, prosecutors, and police departments more time to make the necessary changes. 

For more information about Illinois’ sweeping criminal justice law, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638.