Illinois General Assembly approves sweeping criminal justice overhaul that would end cash bail, require cops to wear body cameras

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Chicago Tribune on 1/13/2021 by Dan Petrella

State lawmakers on Wednesday passed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system that would end cash bail and eventually require every police officer in the state to be equipped with a body camera.

The measures, approved by narrow margins in the final hours of the Illinois General Assembly’s lame-duck session, were spurred on by the public outcry over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other African Americans at the hands of police in the last year and represent a signature accomplishment for the Legislative Black Caucus.

The Black Caucus succeeded in passing three of the four pillars of its agenda in just five days. In addition to the criminal justice legislation, the caucus also won approval for wide-ranging measures aimed at addressing inequality in education and economic development.

In another show of its political strength, the House Black Caucus saw one of its own, Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch of west suburban Hillside, elected to replace embattled Michael Madigan as speaker, ending the Southwest Side Democrat’s nearly four-decade reign.

The criminal justice measure was approved by the Senate just before 5 a.m., and the House voted in favor in the final hour before the inauguration of the new General Assembly.