CourtroomSPRINGFIELD – Two proposals sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights) that aim to reform Illinois’ criminal justice system are now law after being signed by the governor.

“Decades of blindly adhering to harsh justice tactics have done nothing to address the root problems behind crime in our communities,” Hutchinson said. “Reforming our criminal justice system will eliminate racial injustices while ensuring dangerous individuals are behind bars and children are given the resources and opportunities to become productive members of society.”

Hutchinson’s first new law, contained in House Bill 3803, changes the offense of unlawful contact with a street gang member to unlawful participation in street gang-related activity. Under the old definition of unlawful contact, an individual could be charged with an offense for simply being in contact with a family member or close friend with a prior criminal record. The new law requires the person to commit an act in furtherance of gang-related activity before being charged with the offense.

The old definition also had a disproportionate effect on African-Americans, as the ACLU estimates nearly 80 percent of those convicted between 2011 and 2015 were African-American.

Hutchinson’s second new law, contained in House Bill 3903, prohibits the establishment of a student booking station on school grounds.

“When school discipline matters are handled in the same fashion as criminal activity, children do not receive the necessary resources or attention needed to change their behavior,” Hutchinson said. “The school-to-prison pipeline is a real phenomenon in too many of our communities. Acknowledging this fact is important in continuing the work necessary to do everything to end the school-to-prison pipeline.”

Both proposals passed the General Assembly in May and were recently signed by the governor. House Bill 3803 takes effect on January 1, 2018 while House Bill 3903 takes effect immediately.

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