Governor ignores public-safety concerns in signing new law

SPRINGFIELD –  By signing a controversial criminal justice reform bill into law, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has thumbed his nose at the concerns of law-abiding Illinoisans, especially law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, according to State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport).

Stewart strongly opposes House Bill 3653, which was ramrodded through the General Assembly earlier this year and signed into law by Pritzker on Feb. 22.

“After all the controversy and the tremendous public outcry against this terrible legislation, it’s really hard to believe it is now law. It is hard to figure out who this Governor is listening to. It’s definitely a new low for Illinois,” Stewart said. “Pritzker’s action today transcends public policy differences. His action supersedes the rights and safety of law-abiding men and women in favor of criminals who have no regard for right and wrong, and who ignore society’s laws and do what they want, thus threatening the safety of our families, our friends, and our communities.”

The 764-page criminal justice reform bill was filed in the early morning hours of Jan. 13 during lame-duck session, and then called for a vote just after 4 a.m., leaving little time for lawmakers to read it before voting or even discussing it. In addition, debate was limited to only a few Senators from each side, severely limiting the transparency of the process.

“The lawmakers who supported this legislation, those who forced it through the Senate in the dead of night, and the Governor who signed it in the face of such strong public opposition – are all legitimizing ‘business as usual’ in Springfield. For too many years, this type of ‘high-stakes’ legislation has been mashed together in back rooms and presented just minutes before rank-and-file members are asked to vote. Such life-altering decisions about the future of our state, which affect the safety of so many Illinoisans, should not be made without a full public vetting by all stakeholders, as well as full access by the press,” Stewart said.