Illinois House members plan to address rising violence
SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Many across Illinois have already seen that violence will play into arguments in the 2022 election. State lawmakers hope to address rising crime with policies this session.
Rep. Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago) is one of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus members who championed the SAFE-T Act in 2021. Now, he is leading the effort to tackle the state’s recent rise in violence while also trying to lower the political rhetoric surrounding public safety.
Slaughter told House Judiciary-Criminal Committee members Tuesday that lawmakers have previously reached agreements on some of the “toughest topics” to move through the General Assembly. However, he feels there is still plenty of division amongst Democrats and Republicans when it comes to criminal justice reforms.
The Democrat wants his committee to find solutions based on facts, research, and testimony from experts in the criminal justice field.
“Violence is a complex issue,” Slaughter said. “And we’re doing the people of Illinois a disservice by thinking it’s just us, our committee, that can solve that issue.”
Slaughter noted that the rise in violence cannot be addressed without first taking on the community determinants of violence. That’s why he wants the committee to work closely with the Adoption & Child Welfare, Education, Housing, and Human Services committees this spring to find better solutions.
Republicans said they’re willing to come to the table for those discussions. But, they also want their ideas to be heard and have more time to review criminal justice bills before they go up for a vote. Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) said lawmakers need to admit that they’ve “gone too far” with some legislation and can’t correct mistakes until that is admitted.
“When it comes to working together in collaboration and respect, that also has to come on both sides,” McCombie said. “Our initiatives, whether they are 2nd Amendment issues or violence prevention, being brought in on the conversation is extremely important. And we want to do that. We put ourselves on the ballot to do that with you.”
McCombie also noted that the public may want to participate in discussions on proposals moving through the committee. She argued that short notice for hearings doesn’t give people enough time to prepare written or oral statements for or against criminal justice legislation.
Committee Minority Spokesperson Dave Severin (R-Benton) said Democrats and Republicans may have philosophical differences, but violence and crime must be addressed.
“A long time ago, they made ten commandments,” Severin said. “That didn’t fix things. So I realize that just because we legislate something doesn’t mean that it’s gonna fix a problem. I think we can work with all the different players, so to speak, in the community and work towards the answers to these challenges and problems.”
Severin told members that he hopes they can look back someday in the future and see a state with less violence and crime. He also hopes to see people have a change in their hearts and minds when it comes to criminal justice reform.
Last week, House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) told the Gray TV Illinois Capitol Bureau that he would like to see the chamber address the rise in crime with more investments included in the state budget. Welch also explained that lawmakers should create new policies to curb carjacking and organized retail theft. Although, he did not provide specific information about what those plans would do.
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