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ACLU of Illinois says criminal justice reform bill has wide support

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According to a poll commisioned by the ACLU of Illinois has found that a large majority of the state’s voters support the current criminal justice reform bill.

The General Assembly passed the bill last month. According to NBC Chicago, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to sign the bill today.

If signed, the bill would:

  • Create uniformity during the review process
  • Promote professionalism
  • Increase transparency
  • Eliminate cash bail
  • Require records of police misconduct to be preserved
  • Require body cameras on all police in the state

“In the wake of the last summer’s protests against police violence and the responses to the release of the video showing the humiliation and harassment of Anjanette Young, there is little doubt about the strong support for additional police accountability and criminal justice reform,” said Khadine Bennett, director of advocacy and intergovernmental affairs at the ACLU of Illinois, in a press release. “That call reflected the views of millions from all across Illinois – and the legislature responded with House Bill 3653.”

Police unions, like the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, and conservative organizations have opposed the bill, calling it extreme.

Among other findings, public opinion research shows:

  • 9 out of 10 (91%) Illinois voters support legislative efforts that hold police accountable for misconduct
  • 69% of voters agree that reform is necessary now because of racial bias in policing
  • Two thirds (66%) of Illinois voters would be more likely to support a state legislator who signals willingness to hold police more accountable for their actions to just 9% of voters who would be less likely.
  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Illinois voters back:
    • Holding law enforcement accountable for violating individuals’ constitutional rights (89% say it should be a major priority)
    • Establishing clear and consistent statewide limits surrounding the use of force by police, including deadly force (80% say it should be a major priority)
    • Training all police to a clear and consistent standard surrounding the use of force by police, including deadly force (90% say it should be a major priority)
    • Rules mandating that officers are held responsible when they use force without justification resulting in a death (88% support)
    • Establishing consequences for not turning on dashboard or body cameras (88% support)
  • More than 3 out of 4 voters in Illinois support:
    • banning chokeholds (76%)
    • requiring a state agency to report when a police officer uses force (78%)
  • 69% of voters want to end qualified immunity .

“Despite weeks of claims by police officers and police unions that this bill is dangerous, it turns out that the legislation reflects the will of the voters that these officers serve. We encourage the Governor to sign the bill – policing policy, like all government policy, needs to reflect the voice of the public.  No public entity can simply write its own rules and reject appropriate oversight,” said Bennett.

The polling is from two separate polls of 600 registered voters in Illinois. The first poll was conducted by Global Strategy Group from October 27 – November 4. The second poll, also conducted by Global Strategy Group, fielded from December 15-21, 2020.  Each survey, respectively, has a margin of error of +/- 4.0% and were conducted online using a voter file match.  Care was taken to ensure that each poll represented the geographic and demographic divisions of the population of registered voters.

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